Over recent years, national affection and dedicated conservation efforts have helped ensure the long-term survival of an animal whose forebears inhabited the earth some 30 million years ago.
13 different otter species are found across the globe but the Eurasian otter (lutra lutra) is the only species to inhabit Europe. These short-limbed mammals can be found in France, Greece, Spain, Turkey and Scandinavia - and happily the UK population is showing healthy signs of growth after its sad decline in the 1950s. Otters are now found in most of England and Wales as conservation efforts successfully encourage their return.
Lakes, rivers and rocky or coastal areas are the otters' natural habitats, and they can also be spotted hunting their prey in quiet stretches of the canals. Otter territories are vast, covering up to 25 miles (40km) of watercourses and dense vegetation or wooded areas, which they use for resting purposes and for breeding holts. However, otters are timid and not often observed by humans. You are more likely to come across one of their smaller and more confident cousins, the mink.
Last date edited: 24 July 2015