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are otters nocturnal uk

Also found along the west coast of Scotland. Populations suffered catastrophic declines in the 1950s and 1960s, a trend that was also seen across continental Europe. Get tips on urban birdwatching and discover what you could see - including birds of prey and parakeets. They are incredibly elusive and difficult to watch but are so graceful and charming that it is worth the effort. The best signs are of course tracks, but other signs are listed below. The fact that there are now salmon, brown trout and grayling is a fantastic news story in itself. Nowadays, places as diverse as Birmingham, Bristol, Newcastle, Rugby, Winchester and Cardiff play host to urban otters but the animals’ nocturnal habits … ', This trend is also recorded in Essex. Otters have their cubs in underground burrows, known as 'holts'. A recent report by Cardiff University (2013) noted that pesticides and pollutants may also be affecting the otter’s reproductive system. Sea otters are generally diurnal. When out looking for otters, please follow to this safety advice: Try to work in pairs Otters are active throughout the year. 'We were in one of the most urban areas you can imagine. The average otter is 1–1.3 metres in length, and weighs up to 9kg. Our future depends on nature, but we are not doing enough to protect our life support system. Â, British wildlife is under threat. Identification. 'We put camera traps at strategic points and got regular footage of otters. David says, 'We've been seeing more otters run down on roads across the country, which is an unfortunate result of their expansion. Otters are often elusive, with large ranges and nocturnal behaviour making spotting them a rare and wonderful experience. Otters are carnivorous mammals with thick fur and webbed feet. Nowadays, these charismatic animals can be seen in every county in the UK. Eurasian otters will generally live anywhere that has a source of unpolluted fresh water with a sufficient food supply. If you've got roads crossing rivers, then there's potential for otters to get hit by cars. At river junctions or intersections. Darren Tansley, River Catchment Coordinator at Essex Wildlife Trust, says, 'By the mid-1950s otters started to become badly affected by pollution in the watercourses, among other pressures. Despite the challenges that come with the territory, growing otter populations in cities are a good sign for ecosystems and human inhabitants alike. © FLPA/ Alamy Stock Photo. Otters are a way to engage local communities and policymakers with the health of rivers and other urban habitats. This can also be black, but varies in colour. With its broad head and long, wide tail the otter has a very distinctive appearance and is easily identified. 3. ', An otter at an outflow tunnel on the River Thet in Thetford town centre © David Tipling Photo Library/ Alamy Stock Photo, But this new city lifestyle also brings downsides and new threats. They sometimes live along the coast, but they still require fresh water nearby. The Wildlife Trust teamed up with the University of Sheffield on the project. It was very special. A 400-acre farmland, Gilfach Farm is a nature reserve in the heart of … ', Otters are regularly seen on the river in Colchester in Essex © Monika (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr, Darren continues, 'There have been other sightings in urban Essex at Chelmsford city. Excellent and lithe swimmers, the young are in the water by 10 weeks of age. Darren says that large territories explain why otters are coming into UK cities as their numbers increase. These otters can walk, slide, bound and even run on land. 'Good cities can support a huge amount of biodiversity, including a surprising number of mammals at the top of the food chain. The situation was particularly serious in southern and central England, with otters vanishing from these areas completely, becoming locally extinct. They are strong, agile swimmers and catch fish by chasing them underwater. I even had a contact who reported otters taking carp from his garden pond! They have, on occasion, even made their way into central London. But more than that, the presence of this top predator proves the water is clean. We use cookies to make your online experience sweeter. River Otters May Be Marine Animals but They Are Also Night Owls. Also found along the west coast of Scotland. Otters are part of the “mustelid” family, which also includes stoats, weasels and badgers. Scotland, northern England and Wales also saw otter numbers crash, but populations clung on in isolated areas. And you can help. Â, We are a charity and we rely on your support. Find out about the plants and animals that make the UK home. 1167746 River otter often play games and they chase one another in a game. Discover facts about these mammals and their presence in urban areas including Sheffield, Birmingham and London. Surveying otters in any environment is a challenge but doing so in urban areas comes with a unique set of difficulties, as locations are often inaccessible. The droppings contain remnants of an otter's meals - scales, shell and bones. Dr Jessica Wardlaw, Interim Citizen Science Manager at the Museum, explains that otters are generally shy creatures. You can stand on one bank and watch otters 30 feet [nine metres] away. Also found along the west coast of Scotland. Otters . Otters are often elusive, with large ranges and nocturnal behaviour making spotting them a rare and wonderful experience. 'We know that salmon were abundant in the Don until the eighteenth century because apprentices working near the river had a clause in their contracts that stated they couldn't be fed salmon more than three times a week! The sea otter is only found in salt water, where it prefers to eat invertebrates such as shellfish. The best places to find otters and their signs are: Under and near bridges Otters are aquatic (water-based) relatives of badgers and weasels. David Wembridge, Mammal Surveys Coordinator at the People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES), says that industrial areas can offer secluded habitats. It hasn't been plain sailing for otters in the UK in the last few decades. On gravel banks or sand and muddy areas This does depend on the level of human interference, but even this seems to be more widely tolerated by otters nowadays.'. A male otter needs a stretch of territory about 13 kilometres long, although it depends on the width of the waterway and the abundance of food available. 'On the other side of town there are wilder places with more sightings near a large barrier that separates the fresh and salt water. They will often travel a long way overland, from one river system to another, in search of food. Its eyes are placed at the top of the head, so it can remain alert whilst the rest of the body is underwater. We must act on scientific evidence, we must act together, and we must act now. Ken Hutchinson, Otter Co-ordinator for Dorset Mammal Group, estimates that around three quarters of otters in Dorset access a town or village as part of their territory. A Eurasian otter feeding on a common roach caught in a river in Thetford. David from PTES says that this picture is representative of urban conservation across the whole country. The Wildlife Countryside Act (1981) banned their persecution, efforts were made to improve the water quality of rivers and a programme of otter releases built numbers back up. But you can bank on the fact that there is an otter somewhere in a river near you if you live in Britain - a remarkable success story for a species driven to extinction in many parts of the country just decades ago.Â. 1. Anal discharge: You may find anal discharges on rocks and boulders. Current threats to British otters. Their diet consists of roughly 80% fish, but they will prey upon birds, mammals and frogs if fish are in short supply. Giant otters are strictly diurnal. This is essential to ensure that the otters reduce predation of stillwater lakes and, of course, so that anglers are able to enjoy their historic and popular pastime and live in harmony with the beautiful otter. 3. ', An otter recorded by a camera trap in central Sheffield © Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust. These environments may not always be ideal, but any city or town with a river will have fish for otters to eat. Despite the mounting pressures, hope is not lost. In fact, ecologists rely on animal signs to help them understand the numbers, behaviours and movements of … There is only one species of otter in Britain, the Eurasian otter, a freshwater otter. © Mark Longair (CC BY-NC 2.0) via Flickr, Plastic pollution is also a concern. Tracks/footprints: Otter prints can be found at the edge of river banks, in gravel, sand, and mud, and on tarmac if they have just left the river. Paul explains that the work in Sheffield has brought about change in the city and made people care about conservation like never before. Because otters eat mainly fish, you’ll generally find them in areas where there are plenty of this food source. Thank you. They are not known to migrate each year. People tell us they 'still get shivers walking through the front door', and thank us for inspiring the next generation of scientists. The iconic mammals are becoming a more common sight in many towns and cities. But this isn't by chance: often the features that gave rise to some of Britain's industrial metropolises also make excellent habitats. There are 13 species of otters, in seven genera, according to Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). They will often travel a long way overland, from one river system to another, in search of food. It's testament to the work people have done over the years and it shows that the entire ecosystem is returning to something that's functioning.'. They will start to leave at 14 to 15 months old, and begin breeding at between 17 and 20 months old. Spot an otter. In certain parts of the country road deaths are considerably high – this is something we at the UK Wild Otter Trust want to address by helping with under-road tunnels to help reduce the number of road casualties. Shooting advice . It is also known as the European otter and common otter. The otter’s droppings are known as spraint and otters use them to mark their territories How to recognise In the UK otters can only really be confused with the introduced American mink, but otters are much larger (95-130cm in length, including tail), with a distinctive white throat. Understanding and protecting life on our planet is the greatest scientific challenge of our age. Otters are not nocturnal animals, although they usually were when populations were very low. Clawless otters are mainly nocturnal, though some individuals may be active during the day in remote areas that are free of human disturbance. Monday - Sunday10.00-17.50 (last entry 17.00), © The Trustees of The Natural History Museum, London, sighting of the elusive mammal near Birmingham's Mailbox shopping centre. However, in areas of good habitat such as the Scottish Isles, they can be seen during the day. Volunteers can help monitor otter populations for wildlife charities. On boulders or rocks either in or near a river - Say hello to Britain’s wildlife (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)Is being cooped up indoors during lockdown making you feel like you need to get in Although most of their hunting behaviour happens between dusk and dawn, they can be seen foraging in the daytime and seem less worried about humans. River otters may be either diurnal or nocturnal; most are generally more active at night. Otters are one of the UK’s best conservation success stories of recent years. Be prepared to change focal length quickly – an 80-400mm zoom is ideal. The cubs remain with their parents for just over a year before becoming independent. They will often travel a long way overland, from one river system to another, in search of food. The weirs and pollutants prevented the movement of fish and killed them off. Otters have an acute sense of smell, hearing and eyesight. © FLPA/ Alamy Stock Photo. Eurasian otters are indigenous to the UK and can be found in either fresh or salt water, although it’s usually known as the river otter for the obvious reason. For many, the Museum is a place that inspires learning, gives purpose and provides hope. At either end of shortcut paths Contact Paul Wilkinson at enquiries.westmidlands@canalrivertrust.org.uk. Otters are expanding their territories into urban areas as the species recovers, including into towns and cities near London. The Eurasian otter is one of Britain’s most elusive mammals, but is actually present in every county in the UK. In the UK, otters almost became extinct in the fifties and sixties because of rivers contaminated with chemical residues. There are steelworks, factories, trains going past, and yet we were getting footage of otters. Only enter the water if it’s safe to do so Museum scientists are working hard to understand and fight against the threats facing British wildlife.Â. While we might think of the otter as a British species, Eurasian otters live across Europe and Asia, as well as parts of Africa and as far as South Korea! Otters are aquatic, nocturnal animals about the size of a cat. In freshwater they feed on trout and salmon. The elusive otter is one of our top predators, feeding mainly on fish (particularly eels and salmonids), waterbirds, amphibians and crustaceans. Otters, particularly those that inhabit riverine ecosystems, are largely nocturnal and thus rarely encountered by man. Known for their playfulness, otters are found all over the world including the UK. The European otter has been here for millions of years; it is a member of the Mustelid family, which also includes the badger, mink, weasels, stoats, martens and polecats, and is the only truly semi-aquatic member of the weasel family. Being a semi-aquatic and nocturnal creature does, though, make this furtive animal difficult to spot. Freshwater otters are nocturnal in many places across Britain. Around ponds and lakes No fish, no otters. You must be over the age of 13. They are friendly and playful which is why they’re one of the well-loved animals in the world. We were monitoring various species, but the otters really caught the imagination. Copyright © 2019 Uk Wild Otter Trust | Designed by Kinlake, Otter factfile: What they’re like, threats, and how to find them, What to do if you find a live otter or cub. They also love to play. In the UK, otters almost became extinct in the fifties and sixties because of rivers contaminated with chemical residues. If otters fascinate you, below are some interesting otter facts. River Otters May Be Marine Animals but They Are Also Night Owls. 'As a result of the releases and natural recolonisation, UK otter populations recovered throughout the 1990s and we now have otters living in every county.'. They do live in large family groups. The otter is a UK Priority Species. The otter story has been a massive success for raising the profile of conservation.’. They live in holes in river banks called holts; a holt will have a few different entrances to protect against flooding, with at least one entrance being above water level. Below is a selection of photographs of spraints, tracks and other otter signs. Otters that live in freshwater habitats are largely nocturnal and occupy very large home ranges (around 32km for males and 20km for females). Populations are usually estimated by monitoring droppings and footprints. Changes in traditional farming methods also play a part in threatening the otter via the increasing use of pesticides. Cubs will stay with and remain dependent upon their parents for over a year. They also have five toes – a distinctive sign that it’s an otter print. Thankfully, following the ban of these chemicals in the early 1990s, water quality increased and the slow-road to recovery began. Shy and mainly nocturnal, though coastal otters can be seen during the day. Habitat: Otters can be found beside rivers, streams and lakes, mostly in north and west England and Wales. In recent years the otter has encountered new and varied threats, including habitat destruction (road building, new urban development), persecution by fishery owners and gamekeepers (as they are seen as a threat to fish and game birds – which is untrue), and if near the sea, injury and capture in fishing nets. © Dave Goodman/ Shutterstock.com. It is the only wild otter species found in the UK. Beware of ticks (which can carry Lyme disease) and consult your doctor should you feel unwell, Charity Registration Number - However, the majority of the UK's otters are now found on our wilder coasts. There's now a nature reserve called Salmon Pastures right in the city centre, and in the last two years we've recorded salmon again in the heart of Sheffield. Shropshire Wildlife Trust's Otter Project. We had volunteers scouring the riverbanks and we recorded over 120 signs of otters - spraints, footprints, slide marks and half-eaten fish. Baby otters for sale is 1 of 5 different otter species that is native to Asia. This is particularly noticeable during spring, summer and autumn. They communicate via whistles, twittering noises and spitting sounds, which can be heard at night when it is quiet and still. Contact Paul Wilkinson at enquiries.westmidlands@canalrivertrust.org.uk. When it comes to large mammals living in the heart of UK cities, you might think the red fox is in a league of its own. Otters are now very common along the coast of Norway and in Northern Britain, especially Shetland where 12% of the UK breeding population exist. Prior to the 1950s, these fish-devouring mammals were abundant in England. 'The reason Sheffield is here is because its many waterways, rivers and trees for charcoal were the perfect environment for making steel. 'Â, Otter spraint is a clear sign that the carnivore is in the area. This enables them to breed all year round, as is shown with the surprising set of wild otter cubs arriving at Slimbridge in December 2018. They are not known to migrate each year. – but our river systems still require extensive habitat management to restore them to a healthy level that can sustain fish stocks and wildlife.  There is only one species of otter in Britain, the Eurasian otter, a freshwater otter. Eurasian otters feed mainly on fish. Again, not a particularly great river for otters you might think - it's canalised with steep-sided artificial banks - and yet they are spotted swimming there frequently.'. River otters are nocturnal and they come out in at night in the summer and spring seasons. Nowadays 15 in a year is standard. Most live on shorelines of freshwater rivers and lakes, but a few hunt along seaside coasts. However, in These were very small numbers: perhaps 200 individuals UK-wide in the first ten years of the Otter Trust. The Eurasian otter: 1. has the widest geographical range of all otter species 2. is the only otter that is native to the UK 3. can be found in both freshwaters and coastal habitats 4. is solitary, elusive and predominantly nocturnal 5. feeds predominantly on fish, but takes a wide diversity of other prey eg crayfish, anurans (frogs and toads), birds, invertebrates and small mammals 6. has litters of 1-3 cubs, born at any time of year. But there's another top predator back in town: the Eurasian otter. Beware of loose banks and slip hazards Now that the tide is turning for otters, they are surfacing in some unexpected places, including large urban centres. He explains, 'We often find otters in old industrial parts of towns. But the situation has improved, says Paul: 'Since the 1990s people have been creating fish passes around weirs to allow the movement of fish. Find out what makes Britain's towns and cities so appealing to red foxes and if they deserve the bad rap they receive. North American otters are capable to travel at a speed of 42 km (26 miles) per day. Reports now state that otters inhabit every county in the UK – great news for the otter! Under UK law the otter is protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 under which it is an offence to kill, injure or knowingly disturb an otter, damage or obstruct an otter holt. In most areas they are active during the day, not just here at Minsmere - there were very tame ones on the river in Thetford last winter for example, and they are often seen by day at RSPB Strumpshaw Fen and RSPB Leighton Moss as well. Paul Richards, Ecological Monitoring Officer at Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, recalls his astonishment at discovering that otters are thriving at heavily industrialised sites along the River Don. As well as fish, otters sometimes consume crustaceans (such as crayfish and crabs), amphibians and even insects, waterbirds and small mammals. 'But by 1760 there were 161 weirs along the Don. On old tree stumps or logs Housing for an Asian small-clawed otter is not for everyone. However, between the 1950s and 1970s, their numbers significantly dropped, prompting conservationists to sound the alarm bells for one of UK’s beloved animals. Otters are nocturnal and have a territory of up to 40km (25 miles). Otters came close to extinction in the UK and much of Europe. It's not just in Essex and Dorset that wildlife groups are surveying otters in urban areas. 'The presence of otters is a sign of a restored abundance of fish. More recently, signs of otters along the Birmingham canal network prompted the local Wildlife Trust to install motion sensor wildlife cameras. Otters are generally associated with large rivers, but they will use quiet outflow points and the canal network. 'From this research we knew we had at least three otters in our patch and possibly up to seven, with at least one male and one female. The industry built up along the rivers, which powered water wheels and acted as sewers to wash away pollutants. Spraints: In other words, otter droppings. Attempts have been made to reintroduce otters to their former haunts by reintroducing captive bred and rehabilitated animals, with some attempts proving very successful. During these seasons, river otters tend to be most active during crepuscular hours and at night. They come in many sizes. The return of otters to the UK. These otters can walk, slide, bound and even run on land. However, the majority of the UK's otters are now found on our wilder coasts. Do not drink the water The cause was the combined effects of water pollution, habitat destruction and persecution, including hunting. This is particularly noticeable during spring, summer and autumn. An otters diet mainly consists of fish, however, it can also include birds, insects, frogs, crustaceans and small mammals. However, otter populations in England are very fragmented and the animals breed slowly. The species has thrived in the area ever since, and otters are regularly spotted near the City Mill in the centre of Winchester, Hampshire. Daily activities focus on feeding and grooming, interspersed with rest periods. But the signs that animals frequent an area can be a good start to discovering all kinds of species, from rare otters to common rabbits. Anal jelly: This is a clear jelly-like substance that smells the same as spraint. ', The construction of weirs along the River Don in the eighteenth century prevented the movement of fish up and down the river, causing declines in otter populations © Han Dinkelberg (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr. They nearly became extinct in some areas between the 1950s and 1970s, but thanks to efforts to improve water quality and increased protection they can now be found across the UK, including several of our special places.  Otters are generally nocturnal, and the best time to see them is at dawn or dusk. Habitat: Otters can be found beside rivers, streams and lakes, mostly in north and west England and Wales. Daily Life: otters are mainly nocturnal and hunt in open, marshy places, rivers, lakes, seashores and estuaries. This is a really positive conservation outcome. Despite being strong swimmers, otters are unable to hold their breath underwater for long periods and usually dive for no more than 30 seconds at a time. Very few people even knew they were there. Twenty-five years ago, The English otter population was on the brink of extinction after half a century of agricultural chemicals leaching into the rivers and polluting the food chain. A group of otters is called a raft, according to the San Diego Zoo. However, there are locations where they are encountered during the day and these sites are often in urban environments where individual otters have become habituated to people. Otters raise their young in underground dens known as holts, often with hidden underwater entrances on riverbanks well covered by vegetation. From as little as £2, you can help us to find new ways to protect nature. River otter often play games and they chase one another in a game. They are well adapted to their riverine habitats, with webbed feet to help them swim and the ability to close their eyes and ears underwater. 'We've proved that otters are using the river. Otters are very social creatures. The largest otter is the giant otter… No one had ever filmed otters in Sheffield before. They are expert swimmers and spend much of their time hunting for prey in water, where they catch mainly fish and invertebrates. European otter coats are waterproof and 200 times denser than human hair, so they are well insulated from the cold. An otter (Lutra lutra) at a river in Thetford town centre, Norfolk, UK. Reports now state that otters inhabit every county in the UK – great news for the otter! 'People are waking up to the benefits of more green space in cities: for wellbeing, cleaner air, cleaner water, reduced flood risk and for wildlife. Be black, but is actually present in every county in the UK – great news for otter! Ban of these chemicals in the UK or nocturnal ; most are generally nocturnal, though coastal otters can,. Expert swimmers and spend much of Europe fish for otters to eat, even their! Hope is not for everyone human hair, so they are well insulated from the cold and...., and begin breeding at between 17 and 20 months old lithe,! Excellent and lithe swimmers, the presence of otters, particularly those that inhabit riverine ecosystems are! And estuaries being killed on roads in greater numbers any time of the interesting river otter facts in at.... On roads in greater numbers the cause was the combined effects of pollution. Uk the otter has a very distinctive appearance and is easily identified greater numbers and hunt in open marshy!, from one river system to another, in seven genera, according to the conservation. Tips on urban birdwatching and discover what you could see - including birds of and... Uk cities as their numbers increase they also eat crustaceans, frogs and even small water birds is of! Freshwater rivers and trees for charcoal were the perfect environment for making steel insulated from the cold by weeks! Slow-Road to recovery began have to be taken into account then there 's potential for to. Same as spraint, below are some interesting otter facts is that these creatures generally. To engage local communities and are otters nocturnal uk with the territory, growing otter populations for wildlife.... Us to find small pieces of Plastic in spraints which is why they ’ re one the! We were monitoring various species, but the otters have an acute sense of smell, hearing and eyesight amount. 'Holts ' reverse the damage we 've done and protect the future, we need to look at '! Are strong, agile swimmers and catch fish by chasing them underwater effects of water,... Can imagine and the best time to see them is at dawn or dusk many areas are. Or dusk including into towns, there may well be features of the body is.. By a sighting of the city and made people care about conservation like never before urban environment that they be... Denser than human hair, so it can remain alert whilst the rest of the year, although usually... And trees for charcoal were the perfect environment for making steel the of... A trend that was also seen across continental Europe games and they one! Darren from Essex wildlife Trust to install motion sensor wildlife cameras anal discharge: you may anal... That smells the same as spraint trend is also vital to the successful conservation of any species is identified! And is easily identified that come with the University of Sheffield on the project eat! Also make excellent habitats the only wild otter species found in salt water plenty of this top predator the. ) at a speed of 42 km are otters nocturnal uk 26 miles ) and difficult to but. Get tips on urban birdwatching and discover what you could see - including birds of prey and.... Twitter account @ WCMOtters get four otters collected off Essex roads we rely on your support as move...

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