Latin name: Lutra lutraOtter

Size: Body length 62 - 83cm

Weight: 6 -15kg

When: All year round

Where: Almost all waterways in the National Park

An otter swimming across a river or lolloping along a rocky shore is still a magical sight – though not nearly as rare as it was thirty years ago, when pollution and habitat loss decimated their numbers in Britain. Now cleaner waters and a concerted conservation campaign have meant otters are back in all the places they used to live in Scotland.

The best time to spot them is at dawn and dusk, in rivers, lochs, and by the coast, when they hunt for fish, crabs, frogs or small birds. Be patient if they dive – they can stay submerged for 6 - 7 minutes. Webbed feet, a rudder-like tail, and nostrils and ears that close under water make them perfectly adapted for an aquatic existence.

In some places people confuse them with mink – which escaped from fur farms in the 1960s and are now an unwanted addition to our wildlife. You can tell them apart by their colour. Mink are a chocolate rather than fudgy brown, and lack the otter’s pale belly. Otters are almost twice as big as mink, and are successfully ousting them from rivers in some parts of the country.

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Any natural place contains an infinite reservoir of information, and therefore the potential for inexhaustible new discoveries.

Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods