A Guide To Otters

Sun 19th May

What is an otter?

Otters are carnivorous mammals. All subspecies of otters are either semiaquatic, aquatic or marine.They belong to the same family as weasels, badgers, mink, and wolverines, among other animals.


What does an otter look like?

Otters have sleek, long bodies covered in glossy and dense brown fur that stretches from head to toe. With short legs, webbed toes and a muscular, tapered tail they have plenty of attributes to help them swim.


How big is an otter?

Otters range in size from 2 -6 feet in length and 10 – 7 lbs in body weight.


What family does the otter belong to?

Otters belong to the subfamily Lutrinae, which is part of the Mustelidae family.


What is a baby otter called?

Baby otters are called pups or kittens.


What do otters eat?

An otter’s diet consists largely of seafood including fish, crustaceans and other small animals.


What is a female otter called?

Female otters are called sows or bitches.


What are male otters called?

Male otters are called dogs or boars.


Do otters hold hands when they sleep?

Believe it or not, otters hold hands when they sleep to avoid floating away from each other! This action is found to take place between otters within the same group as well as within the same family.


What noise does an otter make?

Otters make a number of different noises including squealing, chirping, purring and even gurgling sounds when they’re happy.


How long do otters live for?

Otters can live to between 10 to 15 years old in the wild, but their lifespan can extend past this in captivity. However, this depends on the environment and habitat that the otter lives in, as otters in a more hostile location with more predators will have a shorter lifespan.


Where do otters sleep?

Although they spend a lot of time in the water, otters sleep on land either in dens or holts. These are usually caves, burrows or holes.


What is a group of otters called?

A group of otters is called a bevy, lodge or family.


How long can an otter hold its breath?

The answer to this depends on the type of otter. River otters have been known to hold their breath for up to 8 minutes, whereas sea otters can hold their breath for up to 5 minutes at a time.


How many species of otter are there?

There are 13 species of otter. These are:

  • Eurasian otters
  • Smooth-coated otters
  • Asian small-clawed otters
  • Hairy-nosed otters
  • Sea otters
  • North American river otters
  • Neotropical otters
  • Giant otters
  • Southern river otters
  • Marine otters
  • African clawless otters
  • Congo clawless otters
  • Spotted-necked otters.


Where do otters live?

Most species of otter live in lakes, wetlands and freshwater rivers. However, the sea otter and other marine otters are found in the Pacific Ocean.


When are otters most active in the UK?

The best places to spot UK otters in the wild are the West Coast of Wales, Scotland, the South East of England and East Anglia.


What is the UK otter population?

There are an estimated 11,000 otters in the UK.


Why are sea otters endangered?

Unfortunately humans have become the biggest threat to the sea otter population due to a number of reasons including hunting, harm caused from fishing and boat strikes. Non-direct human causes such as pollution, disease, oil spills and loss of food are also threatening the species.


Why are giant otters endangered?

The largest threats facing the giant otter are loss of habitat, overharvesting of fish (and therefore food supply), river contamination and hunting.


Which ocean are sea otters native to?

They are native to the Northern American and Asian coasts of the Pacific Ocean.



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