Otter Playing in the garden at Water's Edge

(Pictures taken 9th January 2008)

Otters are extremely playful and can be seen feeding and playing in the kelp along the shore or in streams running out to sea especially in the morning and evening. They pair up and remain together in territories occupying about 3 kilometers of shoreline. Their young are born in holts near the shore or along river banks. Most litters comprise 2 or 3 cubs and although they are weaned after about 14 weeks they stay with their mother for 13 to 15 months.

Otters have a double coat of hair which they shed throughout the year rather than molting in a short molting period. They have very acute senses of sight, smell and hearing and usually detect the presence of any humans long before you get to see them. In order to observe otters it is important to remain at a distance and be quiet and still.

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Widespread throughout Europe but very evident in the waters and Lochs of Scotland the otter burrows its home (holt) out of the bank of river or waterside where it lives. The entrance is underwater and undetectable from above. Two to five cubs are born in May and grow slowly staying in the family group for a year. In this time their coat becomes waterproof and they are taught to hunt and chase fish into shallow waters where it becomes easy prey. Expert divers, they hunt at any time of day or night living on a variety of fish, frogs, insects, crayfish and eels.

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