Eurasian otter

In the Tarn river, a very rich fauna – and especially otters and beavers – can be observed.

The Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) is a carnivorous semi-aquatic mammal, which is mainly nocturnal. Brown above and cream below, this long and slender animal is well-equipped for its aquatic habits. It is an excellent swimmer with its waterproof fur and palmed feet.

It is usually a solitary animal, which occupies a territory of 5 to 15 km in area along riversides. When it comes out of water, it rolls on the grass to dry its fur.

The otter’s holt (den) is usually a burrow or hollow tree on the riverbank.

It feeds mainly on fishes, but also quite frequently on amphibians and crayfish (and more rarely on birds, small rodents, insects or even berries).

 

Formerly it was present in the whole country but in the 19th and 20th centuries it has disappeared from its natural distribution area because of hunting and then pollution.

In the past, it was hunted for its fur and also because fishermen considered it as a rival and therefore as a nuisance species. Today, the Eurasian otter is protected but is still threatened. As most rivers are polluted, the otter can’t find enough fish to feed on. Moreover, many riverbanks have been concreted or adapted, so that trees don’t grow there anymore and therefore the otter has no more place to make its holt.

However, in recent years, in France, some sites have been recolonized by the animal: good news for the future of this species.

 

Photo : Fabrice CAPBER (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Loutre_europ%C3%A9enne.jpg)

Photo credit : Fabrice CAPBER (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Loutre_europ%C3%A9enne.jpg)