Otter

Lutra lutra

Otters are highly adapted aquatic hunters, who are related to badger and pine marten, and are one of the most eagerly sought, yet elusive mammals in Scotland.

They are usually a shade of light brown, which can look darker when wet. They have a streamlined and cylindrical muscular tail and webbed feet. When they swim on the surface of the water, their square muzzle makes a distinctive vee-shaped wake. The ears appear very small and they have large visible whiskers. When diving and swimming underwater they gradually let their breath out, leaving a distinctive chain of bubbles.


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Discover more about Otters

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When to see

Active and breeding throughout the year, a female otter with cubs is often more visible than male, or dog, otters who are usually bigger and more solitary. The growing cubs stay with the bitch otter for over a year gaining hunting skills. Their contact call is a clear “peep” whistle. They may be seen in the evening and the early morning but are more active at night.

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Where to see

It is found throughout Scotland in a range of habitats where there is freshwater. Otters seen at the seashore on the West Coast can be seen during the day. These otters are the same species and should not be confused with sea otters found in the Pacific Ocean. All European otters must wash daily in freshwater to keep their coats in good condition. Shetland and the Isles of Skye and Mull are good spots for otter-watching.

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Did you know?

Otters use their long whiskers to feel the vibrations that a fish or eel makes as it swims through the water. As a result they can hunt and catch this underwater prey in pitch darkness. In contrast their eyesight is very poor both underwater and on land in daylight.

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Related species

Badger Pine Marten

Binoculars Icon Blue
When to see

Active and breeding throughout the year, a female otter with cubs is often more visible than male, or dog, otters who are usually bigger and more solitary. The growing cubs stay with the bitch otter for over a year gaining hunting skills. Their contact call is a clear “peep” whistle. They may be seen in the evening and the early morning but are more active at night.

Map Icon Blue
Where to see

It is found throughout Scotland in a range of habitats where there is freshwater. Otters seen at the seashore on the West Coast can be seen during the day. These otters are the same species and should not be confused with sea otters found in the Pacific Ocean. All European otters must wash daily in freshwater to keep their coats in good condition. Shetland and the Isles of Skye and Mull are good spots for otter-watching.

Book Icon Blue
Did you know?

Otters use their long whiskers to feel the vibrations that a fish or eel makes as it swims through the water. As a result they can hunt and catch this underwater prey in pitch darkness. In contrast their eyesight is very poor both underwater and on land in daylight.

Dolphin Icon Blue
Related species

Badger Pine Marten

Binoculars Icon Blue
When to see

Active and breeding throughout the year, a female otter with cubs is often more visible than male, or dog, otters who are usually bigger and more solitary. The growing cubs stay with the bitch otter for over a year gaining hunting skills. Their contact call is a clear “peep” whistle. They may be seen in the evening and the early morning but are more active at night.

Map Icon Blue
Where to see

It is found throughout Scotland in a range of habitats where there is freshwater. Otters seen at the seashore on the West Coast can be seen during the day. These otters are the same species and should not be confused with sea otters found in the Pacific Ocean. All European otters must wash daily in freshwater to keep their coats in good condition. Shetland and the Isles of Skye and Mull are good spots for otter-watching.

Book Icon Blue
Did you know?

Otters use their long whiskers to feel the vibrations that a fish or eel makes as it swims through the water. As a result they can hunt and catch this underwater prey in pitch darkness. In contrast their eyesight is very poor both underwater and on land in daylight.

Dolphin Icon Blue
Related species

Badger Pine Marten

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