Scientific name: Lutra lutra
Nature Stars: 90
About: The Otter is up to 90cm long, with a strong tail of up to 45cm in length. One of our top predators, the Otter was nearly wiped out during the 20th century, through a combination of pesticide poisoning, persecution and habitat destruction. They are now on the increase again. For the best chances of seeing an otter in the wild, try the west coast of Scotland, the Shetland Islands or some parts of Wales, northern England and East Anglia. Otters feed mainly on fish, but will also catch and eat crayfish, birds, even mammals up to the size of rabbits. Otters have their cubs in underground burrows, known as a 'holt'.
How to identify: Otters can be told from Mink by their larger size, much more powerful body, paler grey-brown fur and broader pale chest and throat. An otter is about as big as a grown-up's leg: a mink is about as big as a grown-up's arm.
Where: A rare but widespread animal, now found almost throughout the country, just absent from parts of central and southern England, the Isle of Man, the Isles of Scilly and the Channel Islands.
Fantastic fact: Otter droppings are known as 'spraints' and smell of jasmine tea!
Photograph credit: Elliot Smith