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If you're thinking of getting in touch then please take a moment to look through these pages as we probably have the answer on our website
Planning & design
All you need to know about planning and design on our canals and rivers
Find a winter mooring
Find a cosy section of canal to hunker down in this winter
10 reasons to take up canoeing
It's a great way to get fit and explore our waterways at the same time
Share the Space
Take a look at our common sense guide to sharing the towpath
Find a place to fish
From reservoirs to club-managed canals and river stretches - find your nearest place to fish
Get your free guide
Download your free guide today and start exploring the waterway nature near you
Download your free guides
You've nine free days out guides to choose from - where will you go first?
Find a walk near you
Are you ready to ramble? Find a waterside stroll or a satisfying hike along our beautiful canals and rivers
Take a look at our upcoming events here.
Find your favourite waterway
With over 95 canals, rivers, reservoirs, docks and navigations, find out more about your favourite waterway
Something for everyone
Help us make a difference and have fun along the way. Find your perfect volunteer role today
Join our team
Could you join your local Towpath Taskforce team and help us to keep our canals looking lovely?
Desmond Family Canoe Trail
If you're aged 16-25 and would like to get involved with this exciting project, please get in touch
Could you be a volunteer lock keeper?
Find out what's involved with this popular volunteering opportunity
We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.
Want to know exactly what makes this creature so special? Abigail Whyte offers up a Bluffer’s Guide to the otter
With its long, streamlined body, webbed toes and waterproof fur, there's no denying the otter is the ultimate river mammal. It’s also the ultimate comeback kid. Forty years ago the otter was pushed to the very brink of extinction by a mixture of hunting and toxic pesticide-laced waterways but over the decades there has been a nationwide clean up of our rivers and otter numbers are at a healthy level once again. Levels are rising so much that, despite being largely shy, nocturnal creatures, daylight sightings of otters are on the increase, and they're even being spotted making themselves at home in towns and cities. Words: Abigail Whyte
Habitat Otters thrive in clean lakes, streams, rivers, canals, coastal areas and offshore islands. Otters are an indicator species – because they're at the top of the food chain, they give a good picture of how healthy the general waterway environment and fish stock levels are.
Behaviour Despite being shy and timid in the presence of humans, otters are also inquisitive, intelligent and playful creatures that enjoy a good frolic in the water, a wrestle with their cubs and sliding along muddy banks.
Breeding There is no set breeding season – a bitch can give birth to a litter of two to four cubs at any time of year. The cubs stay with their parents learning diving and hunting skills until they're 8 to 12 months old. The male parent then goes off to live on his own, characteristic of the otter's solitary nature.
Body Otters grow up to a metre long including its thick tapering tail, which is about 20 inches long. It has a broad, flattened, dog-like face and powerful jaws for crunching into crustaceans. Its streamlined body, waterproof fur and webbed feet make it an effective aquatic hunter.
Swimming As they dive they arch their tail above the water's surface and close their eyes and ears as they submerge. It swims mainly with its hind legs and tail, using its forelegs for steering and balance, propelling its body expertly like a seal. If you see an otter dive under water, follow the trail of bubbles on the surface and wait for it to re-emerge for air.
Fur Otters have chocolate-brown fur with a pale underside. The fur doesn't become waterproof until the otter is around three months old. When submerged bubbles of air trapped in the fur give it a silvery appearance.
Tracks Despite having five toes the otter leaves asymmetric four-toed tracks in the sand or mud. Mink prints are a lot smaller.
Diet Otters eat eels, salmon, trout, crayfish, frogs, water fowl and small mammals. They've even been spotted eating rats and rummaging through bins in urban environments.
Droppings The best way to track the elusive otter is to spot their droppings, or spraints, which they deposit in sheltered areas to avoid them being destroyed by the elements. They are a marker of its territory; a 'keep-out' sign to other otters. Spraints have a characteristic scent – a mixture of freshly mown hay and fish – and usually contain fish bones and scales.
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