European Otter – UK Wildlife
The Otter found in the UK and Scotland is the European or Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra). This is widespread in Europe and is the most common of the Otter species. The European Otter ranges from Ireland to Russia and Asia with a varied population throughout this range. For example it is absent in some countries such as Belgium and Switzerland.
The UK Otter population in Scotland is about 8000 and represents about 90% of the UK population. This makes Scotland’s European Otter population of international importance.
Otters live in a range of habitat including rivers, lakes and costal waters. Many river systems throughout the mainland, highlands and islands of Scotland are home to Otters. However In freshwater Otter can have large territories. As a result they are more difficult to see. In costal ranges feeding is richer so Otter territories are 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. Rich and rocky kelp beds provide good feeding grounds. As a result Otters flourish here on Crabs and shell fish. Otters living in costal habitat still need access to fresh water. So Otters can often be found near areas where streams flow into the sea or loch.
Otters can be seen around much of Scotland’s coast. The areas of highest population providing the best opportunity to see the Otter. For Instance the Shetland Islands and Mull are two of the most noted such areas. Many areas of Scotland’s west coast, Western Isles and Orkney can also be good areas for Otter watching.
Otters are a carnivorous mammal. They belong to the subfamily Lutrinae. This is a branch of the Mustelidae family which includes Martens and Badgers and Weasels, etc. You can find more information on the UKs Pinemarten here.