Officially, Otters: Otter Fun Facts, Otter Endangerment and How to Save the Otters!
Meet the Fam!
Cousins to badgers, otters are also part of the Mustelid family (P.S. minks, weasels and polecats are also part of the family)!
Otters birth 2-3 cubs- this often happens in spring, though they can breed at any time of the year.
Did you know otter cubs aren't born natural swimmers? Their first swimming lesson involves being thrust into the water!
Cubs also normally open their eyes by their fifth week of living.
In general, cubs are dependent on their parents until they're around 12 months old, and they'll become independent by their 15th month. Once otters are 17 months old, they'll start breeding.
Otters, despite being over a metre tall, won't usually weigh more than the average one-year-old human infant: 9kg. Did you know that most of their diet (60%) is fish?
If fish are in short supply, otters will turn to small birds, mammals and frogs for food.
Otters in 'Oles!
Otters live in river bank holes called "holts", they're like tunnels and will have several entrances to protect from flooding- and at least one of those will be above water level. Talk about intelligence.
Despite having a strong affinity for swimming, otters can't hold their breath for very long and won't stay underwater for longer than 30 seconds at a time.
They also have acute senses in smell, hearing and sight- nature does wonders in evolution: otters have their eyes atop their head to allow for alertness whilst underwater and communicate with one another via spitting sounds, twittering noises and whistles. All of these can be heard in the dead of the night.
You'll rarely find a wild otter that's reached four years of age.
More Fun Facts!
- There are 13 otter species in the world! These range from river otters to sea otters!
- 90% of all sea otters reside around the Alaskan coast!
- Otters eat the equivalent of 25% of their body weight in food a day! It has the same energy as sloths pooping a third of their body weight!
- Sea otters have whiskers used to find small creatures (to eat!) and their paws are used to dig out clams (also to eat)!
- We said they were intelligent! Otters use rocks to open up clams! They have loose skin under their armpits and they store small things in there (like the rocks!)
- Since otters don't have a blubber layer (like most other marine animals - think seals and polar bears), they have super thick fur. In fact, it's the thickest of all animals!
- Newborn cubs are called pups! That's adorable!
- Sea otters don't like being separated from each other, so when they sleep, they use seaweed to wrap themselves together and float as a group! Did you know that group is then called a raft?
Why are Otters Endangered?
Otters suffer from numerous threats. From being incorrectly seen as a threat to fish, causing otter persecution through fishery owners and gamekeepers, to habitat destruction. Sometimes, sea otters or those living near the sea will also fall victim to fishing nets, similarly to whales (and dolphins). This results in either injury or death. Not to mention that in some parts of the country, the number of otter road deaths is considerable.
Cardiff University also found that pesticides and pollutants found in rivers may also be affecting otter reproductive systems.
The UK Wild Otter Trust
Based in Devon, the UK Wild Otter Trust is committed to protecting and promoting a positive understanding of the European otter and its conservation.
They aim to engage with the otter population for study, conservation and to translate all their findings to the general human public, where we can all help save the otters!
The Trust works to rehabilitate injured and orphaned cubs for eventual release back into the wild; they hold educational talks and courses to share information on responsibly coexisting and enjoying the otter species.
Finally, there is also a Young Ambassador Scheme supported by Chris Packham aimed at inspiring the young to become leaders in the natural world!
Soon, we'll launch our Save the Otter socks! Bare Kind's donates 10% of profits on all Otter sock sales to the UK Wild Otter Trust to help fund all their research, rehabilitation and educational initiatives in otter conservation!
Let's save the otters together!