How to spot an Otter

Posted on 30th October 2012

Media Release
Immediate: November 2012

How to spot an Otter

Catching a glimpse of a wild otter is something only few are lucky enough to experience. You can start searching for one of the UK’s rare natural success stories with The Wildlife Trusts’ new guide Great places to see Otters.

The Wildlife Trusts’ new online guide provides suggestions of 34 places to look for this elusive and beautiful animal – including Tees Valley Wildlife Trust’s Nature Reserve Portrack Marsh.

Following near extinction during the middle of the twentieth century as a result of persecution and poisoning from pesticides, otters are now present in every English county, as well as Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Wildlife Trusts have been at the forefront of conservation efforts to restore otter populations. Improved water quality, habitat management and increased protection for otters have all played a part in this remarkable conservation success story.

Sightings are far from guaranteed and to increase your chances you’ll need to get up early! Please remember that otters are highly sensitive animals – disturbing otters or their habitat is an offence under the Wildlife & Countryside Act so tread carefully and quietly.

The Wildlife Trusts’ Vice President, Bill Oddie, said: “It is still a difficult task but you are more likely to get lucky in spotting an otter now than ever before. The main fact is that you now stand a pretty good chance of coming across an otter virtually anywhere in the country. I don’t mean up and down the roads or hills but in the rivers – there are now otters recorded in every county – that’s fantastic – and undoubtedly as a result of conservation efforts of Wildlife Trusts and others.”

“To see an otter in the wild is a truly unforgettable experience and something to cherish,” said Steve Ashton, People and Wildlife Manager, Tees Valley Wildlife Trust. “Thanks to the hard work being undertaken by the Environment Agency’s Living Waterways project to get our rivers into better condition and the efforts of volunteers and employees at Tees Valley Wildlife Trust, more people in the Tees Valley are starting to enjoy the fantastic sight of this beautiful mammal.”

Tell-tale signs
Otters can be distinguished from mink by a larger, stronger frame with paler fur and a broader snout and chest. Otters depend on rivers and waterways, learning to swim at just 10 weeks old. Webbed feet, dense fur and the ability to close their ears and nose make them adept underwater swimmers.

A helping hand
Creating places for otters to shelter and give birth in, called holts, is just one of the many activities that have contributed to their increased numbers at nature reserves. In addition, Tees Valley Wildlife Trust is constantly seeking help from volunteers in cleaning up waterways and surveying various habitats for otters.

Contact information:

Steve Ashton
People and Wildlife Manager
Tees Valley Wildlife Trust
01287 636382

Tees Valley Wildlife Trust

The Tees Valley Wildlife Trust is an independent, local charity working to create a better future for wildlife and people.

Established in 1979, it has worked to protect and enhance the natural environment of its area. It manages over 500 acres of land as nature reserves and has improved many other areas of former industrial and under-used land to enhance it for nature conservation.

More information is available at: and twitter@teeswildlife

Notes for editors:
The Wildlife Trusts (TWT)
There are 47 individual Wildlife Trusts covering the whole of the UK. All are working for an environment rich in wildlife for everyone. We have more than 800,000 members including 150,000 members of our junior branch Wildlife Watch. Our vision is to create A Living Landscape and secure Living Seas. We manage around 2,300 nature reserves and every year we advise thousands of landowners and organisations on how to manage their land for wildlife. We also run marine conservation projects around the UK, collecting vital data on the state of our seas and celebrating our amazing marine wildlife. Every year we work with thousands of schools and our nature reserves and visitor centres receive millions of visitors. Each Wildlife Trust is working within its local communities to inspire people about the future of their area: their own Living Landscapes and Living Seas.