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Eurasian Otter : Distribution

Lutra Lutra

Otters everywhere

Eurasian otters are found on rivers and lakes, around estuaries and in Scotland they have adapted to coastal environments. The Eurasian otter is found across most of Europe and Asia. In Britain, thanks to the conservation efforts of the last thirty years, they are now found in all the main river systems.

A number of constraints and preferences limit suitable habitats for otters. Water is a must and the rivers must be large enough to support a healthy population of fish. Being such shy and wary creatures, they will prefer territories where man's activities do not impinge greatly. Of course, there must also be no other otter already in residence - this has only become significant again recently as populations start to recover.

Home on the range

A typical range for a male river otter might be 25km of river, a female's range less than half this. However, the productivity of the river affects this hugely and one study found male ranges between 12 and 80km. Coastal otters have a much more abundant food supply and ranges for males and females may be just a few kms of coastline. Because male ranges are usually larger a male otter may find his range overlaps with two or three females - not bad!

Holts and couches

Otter homes can be called Holts, Couches, Hovers, Resting Site or Den. Otters typically use a lot of different resting places throughout their home territory, ranging from holts beneath the roots of riverbank trees to flattened couches in dense vegetation like reedbeds. It seems that the less man's presence intrudes the more comfortable otters are with "lying rough" in the open.

Although the majority of these resting places are near water, they don't all have to be right along the riverbank. Breeding dens especially can be found more than 100m from the closest stream - probably to make sure there is no chance of flooding.