European Otter

European Otter – Scotland’s Wildlife

The Otter found in Scotland is the European or Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra). The European Otter is the most widespread of the Otter species and is found in many parts of Europe, from Ireland to Russia, and Asia . The European Otter population varies greatly throughout it’s range and it is entirely absent in some countries including Belgium and Switzerland.

The Otter population in Scotland is of international importance and is estimated to be around 8000 which represents about 90% of the UK population.



The otter can be found in a range of habitat including rivers, lakes and costal waters. In Scotland Otters can be found in many river systems throughout the mainland, highlands and islands. Here they can have large territories and be difficult to see. In costal ranges with richer feeding the Otters territory is usually much smaller.

Where to see Otters

It is the costal ranges and sea lochs which provide the best places to see Otters in Scotland.  Here the Otter will spend much of their time feeding in rich and rocky kelp beds eating Crabs and shell fish. In the costal habitat the European Otter still needs access to fresh water and can frequently be found near areas where streams flow into the sea or loch.

Otters can be seen around much of Scotland’s coast with the areas of highest population providing the best opportunity to see the Otter. The Shetland Islands and Mull are two of the most noted of these areas. Many areas of Scotland’s Western west coast, Western Isles and Orkney can also be areas for Otter watching.