Two Otters by the banks (Credit: Mary Fischer)



  • The otter is a large, powerful mammal, with grey-brown fur, a broad snout, and a pale chest and throat. Otters can be distinguished from mink by their much larger size and broader face

  • The elusive otter is one of our top predators, feeding mainly on fish (particularly eels and salmonids), waterbirds, amphibians and crustaceans.

  • Otters have their cubs in underground burrows, known as 'holts'.

  • Excellent swimmers, the young are in the water by 10 weeks of age.

  • Otters are well suited to a life on the water as they have webbed feet, dense fur to keep them warm, and can close their ears and nose when underwater.

  • They require clean rivers, with an abundant source of food and plenty of vegetation to hide their secluded holts.

  • Length: 60-80cm 
    Tail: 32-56cm 
    Weight: 6-8kg 
    Average lifespan: 5-10 years


The conservation status of otters is worrying. They are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 198 and are Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework. Otters are also listed as Near Threatened on the global IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Help us to increase the number of otters living within our rivers by volunteering, supporting or donating to our projects.