But do you want to go out and see them? In recent years the otter has encountered new and varied threats, including habitat destruction (road building, new urban development), persecution by fishery owners and gamekeepers (as they are seen as a threat to fish and game birds – which is untrue), and if near the sea, injury and capture in fishing nets. Otters cannot be kept as pets because they require specific conditions for longevity. Though currently believed to be extinct in Liechtenstein and Switzerland, they are now very common in Latvia, along the coast of Norway, in the western regions of Spain and Portugal and across Great Britain, especially Shetland, where 12% of the UK breeding population exists. Otters have an acute sense of smell, hearing and eyesight. River otters as a whole look quite similar to weasels. One of the major culprits behind the disappearance of otters in the UK is habitat pollution. They can be found in Alaska, Canada, Japan, Russia, Washington, Alaska, Oregon and other places along the coast. Having spent her childhood in the countryside, Fran has been fascinated about nature since she was young. In fact, in their lifetime, most females only give birth to two sets of pups. Otters tend to use the same area time after time for depositing waste and this area is referred to as a latrine. They have long, narrow bodies, with long tails and short legs. The sea otter, one of the 13 otter species, is considered the smallest marine mammal in the world. While authorities say that numbers are looking good for otters, you must still take part in efforts to safeguard these adorable mammals, especially since threats to their existence remain. A recent report by Cardiff University (2013) noted that pesticides and pollutants may also be affecting the otter’s reproductive system. On gravel banks or sand and muddy areas Sometimes, otters are spotted at the city centre. They communicate via whistles, twittering noises and spitting sounds, which can be heard at night when it is quiet and still. Or email email@example.com Winterwatch is now on with live reports from the Scottish Highlands. When she's not writing, she's busy trekking or exploring beaches. Reports now state that otters inhabit every county in the UK – great news for the otter! On boulders or rocks either in or near a river Do your homework to ensure that you’re fully educated before venturing out to otter spot. At river junctions or intersections. The European otter has been here for millions of years; it is a member of the Mustelid family, which also includes the badger, mink, weasels, stoats, martens and polecats, and is the only truly semi-aquatic member of the weasel family. These elusive animals are also highly sensitive.Â Stay quiet when observing them and never disturb them and their habitat. Its eyes are placed at the top of the head, so it can remain alert whilst the rest of the body is underwater. Otters are found almost all over the world and in many wet habitats, such freshwater rivers, lakes, oceans, coastlines and marshes. Otters are very playful: Don’t be surprised when you see otters happily sliding. Otters are carnivorous animals and fish make up 80% of their diet, Located at the heart of Exeter city centre, Cricklepit Mill is one of the best places to spot otters. The place is open Monday to Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM. In 2011, the Environment Agency announced that otters are officially back in the country. Otters are very territorial and live in family groups. The European otter (Lutra lutra), also called the Eurasian otter, inhabits Europe, most of Asia and parts of North Africa. Otters prefer to live in bodies of water that are close to land offering them wetlands or the woods close by. Given these facts and the existing threats, it is not impossible for their number to drop again. Others report spotting them by the waterfalls. Other members of this family are weasels, polecats and badgers. This eventually led to improved water quality and fish population. Where do sea otters live map? Hence, protecting them is essential to ensure that they continue to thrive in the UK. Otters do not reproduce quickly. Only enter the water if it’s safe to do so Oftentimes, they are found by the River Lune. Though still considered rare, the species is widespread in the UK and can be seen in almost every county. Otters have reappeared in places where they have not been seen since the industrial revolution, including Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester, and even on the Thames and the Lea in north London. Pet otters need a lot of attention. Organochlorine chemicals which are found in pesticides contaminated rivers in England rendering them uninhabitable for fish and otters. However, between the 1950s and 1970s, their numbers significantly dropped, prompting conservationists to sound the alarm bells for one of UKâs beloved animals. You may find them resting on ditches, tree roots and boardwalks, among others. Their f… She loves animals and currently cares for three adorable chihuahuas. Changes in traditional farming methods also play a part in threatening the otter via the increasing use of pesticides. Otters are semi-aquatic mammals that belong to the family called Mustelid. This is essential to ensure that the otters reduce predation of stillwater lakes and, of course, so that anglers are able to enjoy their historic and popular pastime and live in harmony with the beautiful otter. Other sea lochs along Scotland's west coast are similarly rich in otters, which can be seen foraging for food on the water's edge. The northern sea otter tends to haul out more than others. Not all otters use tools, but sea otters use them all the time. Tracks/footprints: Otter prints can be found at the edge of river banks, in gravel, sand, and mud, and on tarmac if they have just left the river. There are several places in the UK where you might be able to spot otters. – but our river systems still require extensive habitat management to restore them to a healthy level that can sustain fish stocks and wildlife. For the best chance of spotting an otter, head to Scotland, the west coast of Wales, East Anglia and South-West Endland. They have 2 or 3 cubs weighing no more than 40g; these are not born natural swimmers, and very often adults will force their young into the water for their first swimming lesson. Unfortunately, even though the species has made a distinct comeback and is now found often in our rivers, wild otters rarely live beyond 4 years of age. At the visitor centre, there is an interactive screen where you can watch footage of otters during their visits to the Mill. Their toes are webbed, they have short legs and they boast a tapered tail ranging up to 15 inches long. Always wash your hands once completed Their gestation period is 9 weeks and they can breed at any time of the year, although this usually occurs in spring. The International Otter Survival Fund (IOSF) is one of the world's leading otter charities. River otters belong to the weasel family. This isnât surprising at all given the city centreâs proximity to Winnall Moors, estimated to be a 10-minute walk. Some claim seeing these marine mammals along the farmâs natural trail. Do not drink the water By the 1970s, otters were restricted mainly to Scotland, especially the … However, when fish is scarce, they eat insects, frogs, birds and other mammals like rodents. Today, the species is flourishing across Scotland, and recovering well across the UK as waterways are cleaned up. Keep up to date with the hottest wildlife content on the web and save Â£10 on your first wildlife experience. The oldest recorded otter reached around 12 years of age, but this is exceptional. It’s one of the things … The otter (Lutra lutra) was lost from most of England and Wales between the 1950s and the 1970s because of pesticide pollution of waterways. They also have five toes – a distinctive sign that it’s an otter print. Their body shape aids in helping them make sudden turns to catch fish and other prey. It is important to note that spotting otters is not easy. Around ponds and lakes If you want our help we can research, plan and book your dream wildlife experience. 1: Do your research. On old tree stumps or logs At either end of shortcut paths Others are getting caught in fishing nets and crayfish traps, while some are dying in road accidents. This can also be black, but varies in colour. Some of them are listed below: This ancient woodland on the River Lune is consider an otter hotspot. Predators such as the bald eagle may eat the pups. When is the best time to see otters? Eurasian otter eating fish photo by Smudge 9000, Your email address will not be published. Their main habitat is on the land near to water bodies. There is a picture below to help you recognise this sign. Most otters live in dens — built by other animals, such as beavers — that are dug into the ground that have many channels and dry inner chambers. So, to increase your chance of seeing them, take a walk along the River Tees. Sometimes, talks about otters are conducted here. Conservation. In 1978, hunting of otters in the UK was banned. During your walk, you may spot other animals such as seals, herons, swans and tufted duck. They live in holes in river banks called holts; a holt will have a few different entrances to protect against flooding, with at least one entrance being above water level. They are usually found on the river and riverbank. The average otter is 1–1.3 metres in length, and weighs up to 9kg. Where Do They Live Otters can be found in many different parts of the world depending on the types of otters spotted. They can live eight to nine years in the wild but have lived up to 21 years in captivity. One species of otter is native to the UK: the Eurasian or European otter, which is found across Europe, even reaching some parts of Asia and Africa too. Winnall Moors is a wildlife oasis located north of Winchester city centre. The otter is one of the few mammals that use tools. They typically … The best signs are of course tracks, but other signs are listed below. Where do otters live? But don't mistakenly call these beasts 'sea otters' – they are still our native otter, and not the different North American sea otter. Prior to the 1950s, these fish-devouring mammals were abundant in England. These otters have brown-to-gray fur, and their undersides are a lighter, silvery shade. Apart from being easily accessible, this urban site, which also happens to be Devon Wildlife Trustâs headquarters, receives regular visits from otters. By the 1970s, otters were restricted mainly to Scotland, especially the islands and the north-west coast, western Wales, parts of East Anglia and the West Country (though they remained common and widespread also in Ireland). Life Span: Otters can live to be up to ten years old, though few survive more than five years. They even love to live in swamp and marsh areas. River otters possess long, muscular bodies suited to their life on both land and in water. Otters can live in most places where there is a rocky shoreline and nearby freshwater, but these tips collated by Joe Gibb – with the help of otter aficionado Roger Cottis – will help give you the greatest chance of spotting an otter in the wild. One of … Avoid rivers in full flood or fast-flowing sections Road and building constructions as well as other infrastructure developments are displacing otters, too. Sea otters are found in two areas: The Pacific coasts of Russia and Alaska, and along the central California coast. European otter Scientific name: Lutra lutra The sinuous otter is an excellent swimmer and can be seen hunting in wetlands, rivers and along the coast - try the west coast of Scotland, West Wales, the West Country or East Anglia for the best views. Catch the best of UK winter wildlife on BBC Two at 20:00 tonight . Their dense, short under-fur is overlain by darker, coarse guard hairs that help repel wa… Distribution & Habitat The otter is a secretive semi-aquatic species which was once widespread in Britain. Be on the lookout for footprints displaying four toes as these may point you to where the otters are. But it survived in Scotland’s cleanest bodies of water in the north and west. The north American range of sea otters extends from the Aleutian Islands to Prince William Sound. Known for their playfulness, otters are found all over the world including the UK. Yet, it still took three decades for otter population in the UK to fully recover. 1167746 It has taken 30 years, but the otter's comeback is now complete. If you keep a pet otter, be very careful when you have visitors. In marshes or reed beds Stay alert and observant when you go otter spotting in Aughton Woods. Where do otters live? All otters have webbed feet to help propel them through the water, and most species have sharp claws. However, between the 1950s and 1970s, their numbers significantly dropped, prompting conservationists to sound the alarm bells for one of UK’s beloved animals. Despite being strong swimmers, otters are unable to hold their breath underwater for long periods and usually dive for no more than 30 seconds at a time. They are carnivorous, and most species eat a variety of fish, amphibians, shellfish, crabs, and other aquatic creatures. Otters are social creatures. In fact, following the announcement of their comeback, fishing groups called for a cull because they say that otters are threats to their fish. Beware of loose banks and slip hazards Sightings often happen during mid-afternoon. It’s important to know your target species’ habitat, behaviour and feeding patterns before setting out. A sea otter’s tool of choice: typically a rock that … They do not like intruders in their space or near their family and will defend accordingly. River otters are smaller than their cousins, the sea otters. If you do, then you are lucky because the odds of seeing otters in the UK nowadays are high. We do too. Below is a selection of photographs of spraints, tracks and other otter signs. River otters generally live alone or in small social groups. 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