||Diet: Fish, amphibians,
birds, small mammals, other aquatic animals
- 80 cm (21 1/2 - 31 1/2 in), tail: 30 - 50 cm (12 - 19 1/2 in)
||Conservation Status: Near threatened
lakes, sheltered coasts
Europe, North Africa, Asia
agile on land, otters have become well adapted for an aquatic life. The
Eurasian otter has the slim mustelid body, but its tail is thick, fleshy
and muscular for propulsion in water. All four feet are webbed, and the
nostrils and ears can be closed when the otter is in water. Its fur is
short and dense and keeps the skin dry by trapping a layer of air around
the body. An excellent swimmer and diver, the otter moves in water by strong
undulations of its body and tail and strokes of its hind feet. It feeds
on fish, frogs, water birds, voles and other aquatic creatures. Otters
are solitary, elusive creatures, now rare in much of their range. They
den in a riverbank in a burrow called a holt and are most active at night.
Even adult otters are playful animals and enjoy sliding down a muddy bank.
A litter of 2 or 3 young is born in the spring -- or at any time of year
in the south of the otter's range. There are 8 species of Lutra, all with
more or less similar habits and adaptations.