Eurasian Otter feeding in the Shetland Islands
Mother Eurasian Otter moving with her cubs to find a better fishing location.
A young cub itching the salt of its fur.
Young adult Eurasian Otter feeding in the short riverbank grass.
Eurasian Otters have adapted to be excellent swimmers moving through the water with ease.
Eurasian Otters are elusive mammals always on the look out for predators.
Eurasian Otters are excellent hunters and enjoy a mostly fish based diet, however they will eat other things for example frogs or even birds.
After successfully catching prey the Eurasian Otter will consume it either in the water, if the prey is small, or on land if larger.
Moving through the water Otters can pick up various bits of plant life as seen here.
This particular Otter always returned to the same log to consume any prey it had caught.
One sign to look for when searching for the Eurasian Otter is leftover food by riverbanks and the coast.
Paw prints are another way of knowing whether or not otters are in the area.
Otters spraint is normally located on prominent features in it's habitat, for example a fallen tree or a large rock.
Spraints and jelly are used to mark the otters territory.
Spraints have a distinctive smell often described as jasmine tea, this is how you know what you have found belongs to an otter.
An otter lives in a holt, they can have several of these at any one time and are protected by law so should not be disturbed.
Otters often spraint under bridges so this is an ideal area to look.
If signs are spotted they are recorded to form a data bank of records for the Somerset Otter Group.
To find otter signs it often means getting on your hands and knees and getting close to the edge of the water.
Otter signs can be located anywhere along a river they inhabit so it is important to check all along the bank.
Sadly many Eurasian Otters are killed in traffic accidents. If you find a deceased otter contact your local Environment Agency so it can be taken for an autopsy.
Any deceased otters found are taken to Cardiff Otter Project to be autopsied they are checked for several things including parasites.
All of the otters organs are checked for irregularities to make sure the individual was healthy at the time of death.
The kidneys are checked for any parasites or health issues, this can sometimes provide a cause of death.
Blood is taken to look for any genetic issues which could provide a cause of death should one not be found.
Tissue samples are also taken to see if the individual was healthy or a carrier of any diseases.
Eurasian Otters are found along healthy rivers and coastlines. Litter can cause pollution which can cause otter deaths. To maintain a healthy population the habitat needs to be maintained.
The European Eel use to be a food source of the Eurasian Otter until their population decline due to pollution. A healthy river system is vital to improve the otters prey source and continue to allow the otter population to grow.
Conservation is important for the otter as it helps us monitor the population and as they are a top predator the health of the environment.
With the slow return of the eel the otter will soon have another prey source, which will help balance the ecosystem.