Otters were once found across the whole of Europe, but are now missing from most of their former range. Otters were lost from England and Wales in the 1950s, but continued to thrive in Scotland. Today, they are flourishing here, and thanks to conservation and protection, otters are now recovering in the rest of the UK too. RSPB Scotland's Molly Martin shares five facts about our lovely otters.

Five facts about otters

About 50% of Scotland’s otters live by the sea, where they gain the name sea-otters, although exactly the same as those found inland. Otters live in dens called holts, normally on their own, but a mother otter will keep her pups with her for 13 months. 

Otters are highly territorial, marking their patch with faeces, referred to as “spraint”. The size of territory depends on how much food can be found in it. Coastal patches tend to be small than inland ones, as the amount of food that can be provided by the sea is higher.  

otter amongst seaweed and rocks

Otters have thick, waterproof fur, which must be kept clean of salt to maintain its insulating properties. 

Otters must eat about 1-1.5kg of prey each day. Their diet consists of fish, amphibians, crustaceans, and occasionally small mammals and birds. 

otter climbing up onto a pier

Otters can breed at any time of the year, and will have between 1-4 pups in each litter. Shetland has the highest density of otters in the UK, with 12% of the breeding population being found there.  

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