The European Otter (Lutra lutra)
The European Otter is a large aquatic carnivore with dark fur and a long black tapered tail. It’s an important biological indicator for the health of our rivers and wetlands, as well as being a top predator in these habitats.
During the 20th century, otter populations underwent a noticeable decline in the UK, potentially due to the introduction of certain pesticides contaminating fish. These pesticides have since been banned, meaning otters are slowly recovering and recolonising many UK waterways. However, previous surveys found that otters did not inhabit the vast majority of Sussex (Figure 1).
However, recent sightings show that otters are moving back into Sussex! This has great benefits for our waterways, as a top predator the presence of the otter will help control other species, maximising biodiversity. Getting a better idea of their density and distribution by surveying our waterways can help us protect and conserve this species in the future.
You can help us in our efforts to monitor otter recolonisation by downloading the Mammal Mapper App and participating in our latest project “Walk This Water Way”. All you have to do is walk at least 600m of waterway and record your sightings in the app. You’ll need to enter the Survey ID as WTWW.
Need a nudge to get out surveying? How about if we tell you that the first 50 people to submit 5 or more surveys will receive some lovely photos of our target species and a Mammal Society pin badge! If that’s not enough, then the user who logs the most surveys with the survey ID WTWW will get a prize bundle! We even have a separate prize bundle for the user who logs the most surveys in the UK, and the user who logs the most just in Sussex! So, what are you waiting for? Download the Mammal Mapper App and get recording!
- Otters have nostrils that can close underwater!
- They can hold their breath for up to 8 minutes while underwater.
- Adult females care for their offspring until they’re about 6 months old.
- The otter is the largest member of the weasel family
- Baby otters are called pups