Commin Otter

Lutra lutraIts body length is 55-95 cm, the tail is 26-55 cm, and the mass is 6-10 kg. It is a fairly large beast, with the long and slender streamlined body typical of the subfamily. Otters are dark brown on top, and light and silvery in the under parts. The guard hair is coarse, with the undercoat very thick and tender. The common otter is widespread over an extremely vast expanse, including almost entire Europe, Asia and North Africa.

The animal can be encountered all across the region, but mainly in the north and south – rich in woods and water. It is a good swimmer and diver, and its fur does not get wet. It settles by the forest rivers, creaks streams and lakes, where the banks have thickets of trees, shrubs and grass, with sufficient stock of animal food. Otters start hunting with the fall of dark. They mainly predate on small fish, frogs, water voles, and rarer on crawfish, mollusks, insects and other animals and birds. In the winter, they forage under ice via air holes, thaw holes, nonfreezing streams and caverns. Ashore, they live in holes or find shelter in tree roots and deadwood.

Otters are precious fur game, yet scarce. In the 1920-30’s, it was uncommon for the region. In the postwar years and up until 1953, otter hunt was forbidden, and later licensed for winter seasons.

The otter mainly inhabits forest rivers – and lakes to a smaller extent – rich in fish, crawfish, and small rodents on the banks. It prefers rivers with pools, rapids unlikely to freeze, banks caved in by the water and intensely cluttered with deadwood, which yields many spots for shelter and holes with underwater entrances.

The species predominantly feeds on fish (carp, pike, trout, roach, gobies etc.), at that preferring the smaller ones. In the winter, it forages on large numbers of frogs, and quite commonly caddis worms. In the summer, apart from fish, it hunts water voles and other rodents, and in certain areas it systemically predates on snipes and ducks.

Common otter is red-listed in Russia and internationally.

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