Animal Database

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Animal Database
Animal Database
Eurasian Otter
European Otter
Range North America
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Carnivora
Family Mustelidae
Genus Lutra
Species Lutra lutra
Conservation Status
Near Threatened
European otter

The Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) is a European-Asian member of the freshwater otters. The word "otter" comes from Middle English oter which comes from Old English otor which is descended from Proto-Germanic *utraz which is ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *udrós meaning "aquatic, water-animal". It's aliases include European otter, Eurasian river otter, Common otter, and Old world otter.


These elegant creature's fur is brown above and cream on it's underparts. They are long and fully suited to their habitat being able to propel itself fast through the water with their long tail. It is usually 23-27 inches long with it's tail being 14-18 inches in length. Strangely, the female is shorter than the male. They usually weigh in at 15.4-37 lbs. By an anonymous and un-verified source, the largest specimen in captivity was 53 lbs.


European otters live alone due to their highly territorial behavior. An individual's territory varies based on the source of water and food, but is usually 11 miles. The minimum and maximum are 1/2 to 25 miles. Mating takes place in water like most otters. Afterwards, gestation is typically 60-64 days. When the time comes, 1-4 pups are born who will remain in the safety of their mother for 13 months. Like many other carnivores, males have no role in rearing the young. Strangely, a mother otter's territory is within a male's. Hunting takes place at night while the rest of the day is usually spent in the den. Their den could be a hollow tree trunk or a structure similar in ways to a beaver's dam. Smell is a main sense in hunting.


Their diet mainly consists of fish as all otters. But they will eat birds, frogs, insects, crustaceans, small mammals, and even young beavers!


Up to 10-12 years, but an average lifespan is shorter.


The European otter has a wide distribution consisting of 3 continents, Europe, Asia, and even Northern-most parts of Africa. Their most common areas are Latvia, along the coast of Norway, Great Britain', Ireland, and Shetland. Shetland happens to be where 12% of the United Kingdom breeding population is. European otters have been found in Italy, but only in the Southern peninsular areas. They even live in South Korea, sadly though, they are endangered there. They are believed to have gone extinct in Liechtenstein and Switzerland sadly.

They live mostly in lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, or any other body of freshwater. But, they will also live along coastlines and in saltwater.


In the 2nd half of the 20th century, the European otter's range declined due to extreme pollution, pesticides, habitat loss, and illegal and legal hunting. Now, their population is returning. Between 1994 and 2002, their population increased by nearly 55%. In Hong Kong, it is a protected species under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance Cap 170. It is also listed as a Near Threatened species by the IUCN Red list.