Status: Near Threatened … Otter cubs only open their eyes about five weeks after they are born. Otters have a long, slim body with a powerful tail which they use when swimming. An isolated population of the species is also found in the marshes of Iraq indicating the range must once have been wider. We are a Devon-based charity dedicated to protecting and promoting a positive understanding of the European otter and its conservation.We want everyone to be able to engage with and appreciate these beautiful animals, and we work hard to raise awareness, educate, and share information in as many ways as possible! Due to trapping, water pollution and habitat degradation, the numbers of North American river otter had declined through most of their range by the early 1900s. This species once had an extensive distribution from the Cauquenes and Cachapoal Rivers to the Magellan region in Chile, but is now restricted to seven isolated areas from Cautín to Futaleufú due to overhunting. It is one of the rarest otter species. Their varied and adaptable diets mean they may inhabit any unpolluted body of fresh water, including lakes, streams, rivers, and ponds, as long as there are adequate food supplies. Male Otters are called boars, females are sows, and the offspring are pups. Keep an eye out for them: Today an otter’s main threat is from what we put in the water. Today, the Eurasian otter population is increasing (although it remains Near Threatened on the Red List) and every county in the UK now has a wild otter population. Visit mammal.org.uk. Otters seek clean rivers, filled with food and overgrown banks where they can raise their cubs. They are a greeny black colour and are often described as smelling like flowers! We use cookies on this site to improve your user experience. This soft layer closest to their skin traps air, which gives good insulation. This species is the most widely distributed of all the otters, ranging through Eurasia up to the Arctic Circle, from Ireland to Kamchatka, and south to North Africa, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. However, between the 1950s and 1970s, their numbers significantly dropped, prompting conservationists to sound the alarm bells for one of UK’s beloved animals. Otters leave spraints in prominent places, such as fallen trees, weirs and bridges, as 'scented messages', helping them to find mates and defend territories. There are 13 extant species of otter around the world, one of which is native to the UK. Eurasian otters are indigenous to the UK and can be found in either fresh or salt water, although it’s usually known as the river otter for the obvious reason. Discover more fascinating facts about giant otters in our fact file by the International Otter Survival Fund. On boulders or rocks either in river or near the river, A group of river otters is known as a romp. Their favourite habitats include wetlands, rivers and coastlines. Wetland wildlife. Thanks mainly to conservation efforts, in the early 1990s these chemicals were banned and as water quality slowly increased so did otter numbers. They have two types of fur, … The Scottish population is estimated to be around 8000 otters. Eurasian otter numbers began declining in the 1950s until the species became almost extinct in England and Wales, although a small population survived in Scotland. Although the Eurasian otter isn’t a marine animal (don’t confuse it with a sea otter, which are only found in the Pacific) because it can’t survive without fresh water, they are often found in coastal habitats as well as lakes, rivers and streams. Meet the adorable members of the otter family from around the world. Following a period of serious decline between the 1950s and 1970s when the species was driven to near extinction in some areas, these water-dwelling mammals have made a comeback in every county in England and beyond. The invasive American mink also has five toes, but the pads are much narrower and the claws more pointed. The position of its eyes are high on its head which means it can see out of the water whilst the rest of its body stays submerged below - like a hippo! In Italy, they can be found in southern parts of the peninsula. By entering your details, you are agreeing to Discover Wildlife terms and conditions and privacy policy. – but our river systems still require extensive habitat management to restore them to a healthy level that can sustain fish stocks and wildlife. You can unsubscribe at any time. Sign in to manage your newsletter preferences. Newborns are only about 12cm long but grow quickly and can swim at three months. Perhaps the most foolproof location for otters is the Isle of Mull. The little owl is a native animal of the United Kingdom, and it was introduced in this region in the 19th century. There are 13 extant species of otter around the world, one of which is native to the UK. However, following a series of escapes and releases, by 1956 it was apparent that there was a self-sustaining feral population. Look for a muddy, semi-circular slide into the river. The oldest recorded otter reached around 12 years of age, but this is exceptional. Already have an account with us? You can discover some of our favourite otter facts here: Editorial and digital co-ordinator at BBC Wildlife Magazine, and countryfile.com. Otters consume mainly fish but many people think that they eat plants and berries. Sea otters are native to the coasts of the northern and eastern North Pacific Ocean. Even though there are more of them about otters are still hard to spot. Beautiful, sleek and playful, otters are a joy to watch as they twist and dive in the water. They also eat crustaceans, frogs and even small water birds. These include webbed feet and the ability to close their nostrils and ears when under water. While hunting and habitat loss played a part, pollution of our waterways from agricultural chemicals was devastating to otter populations. Otters are shy and elusive creatures, so if you really want to see them when you visit Shetland (when we’re open for business again!) It is common in Lake Victoria and Zambia, but not in some lakes and rivers, such as in the Zambezi below the Victoria Falls. They breed all year round, but in the UK otters tend to have their young (called pups) in the summer months so at this time of year, you stand a better chance of glimpsing a sight of them in rivers and coastal wetlands. In India, the species is distributed in the Himalayan foothills, southern Western Ghats and the central Indian landscape. As the largest otter, it can reach up to 2m in length. Otters have five claws so it’s easy to tell an otter footprint from most other animals. In the past, this species was widely employed throughout its range by fishermen, with trained animals being highly valued. They are friendly and playful which is why they’re one of the well-loved animals in the world. Today, the species is flourishing across Scotland, and recovering well across the UK as waterways are cleaned up. About the National Non-Native Species Secretariat. The 13 extant otter species are all semiaquatic , aquatic or marine , with diets based on fish and invertebrates . This species can grow quite large, almost as big as the giant otter, and weigh up to 18kg. Otters in the UK face several new dangers, despite their success in recolonising some of their old haunts. 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