Home



HomeNewsNewsletterSitemap
Print-friendly version

Otters

Otters are fish eating mammals that spend a long amount of time living in the water. Otters are part of the family Mustelidae along with weasels, polecats, badgers, and a variety of other species. Otters are found globally and the name is taken from the Old English word otr, a word which actually gave rise to the word water.

Otters eat mainly fish but will supplement their diet with shellfish, and even small mammals such as mice and birds eggs from time to time. Otters dens are known as holts and males are referred to as dogs, whilst females are queens.

The collective noun for a pack of otters is a "romp", it is easy to understand why this name is so apt when you see how playful otters can be in groups. Otters are covered in a very soft, fine layer of fur that is in turn covered with a longer layer of tough guard hair.

This multi-layered hair traps air helping to keep the otter warm and dry under water. To help shield them from the cold otters also have high metabolic rates, with the animals themselves having to eat anything up to 25% of their own body weight in a day depending on the species.

Otters are always on the move hunting food, typically up to 5 hours a day, or 8 hours a day when nursing young. The playful nature of the otter has to be seen to be believed, they will slide down trees or icy slopes repeatedly, apparently enjoying the experience, and whilst some species are solitary many others are very sociable and conform to anything from a loose social group to a strict heirarchy.