Eurasian Otter, Common Otter, European Otter

(Lutra lutra)


Eurasian Otter, Common Otter, European Otter IUCN NEAR THREATENED (NT)


Facts about this animal

The Eurasian otter is a semi-aquatic species living in a wide range of freshwater habitats and along coasts. Also coastal otters are depending of freshwater, however.


Otters are medium-sized mustelids with a head-body lenght of 57-70 cm and a tail of 35-45 cm. Males reach a body-weight of 10 kg, females of 7 kg. They have a long slender body, small ears, thick, tapering tail, and well-webbed feet with strong claws. There is a large naked, shield-shaped, black nose pad. The fur consists of long, coarse guardhairs and shorther, very dense underfur. It is brown on the upperside, buff to cream on throat and underside.


The otters' diet consists primarily of fish, whatever species are available. They may also take water birds such as coots, moorhens and ducks. In the spring, frogs are an important food item.


Otters are usually solitary and relatively nocturnal. The main mating season is from February to March and July. After a pregnancy of 60 to 70 days the female gives birth to a litter of usually 2-3 cubs of about 100-120g. These are born blind. They will open their eyes after one month, begin to leave the nest after two months, and be weaned after 3 months. The young stay with their mothers for up to 14 months and reach sexual maturity after 2 or 3 years.

Did you know?
That Eurasian otters spend half of their lives sleeping? That can mean ten years of snoozing for many otters, and phases of inactivity are often during the zoo's opening hours....!


Name (Scientific) Lutra lutra
Name (English) Eurasian Otter, Common Otter, European Otter
Name (French) Loutre d'Europe, Loutre commune
Name (German) Eurasischer Fischotter
Name (Spanish) Nutria, Nutria común
Local names Albanian: Lunderza, Lutra
Croatian: Vidra
Danish: Odder
Dutch: Otter
Estonian: Saarmas, Udras
Finnish: Saukko
Hungarian: Közönséges vidra
Italian: Lontra comune
Lettish: Udrs
Norwegian: Oter
Polish: Wydra
Portuguese: Lontra europeia
Slovenian: Vidra
Swedish: Utter
Turkish: Su samuru
CITES Status Appendix I
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Catherine Trigg



Range Asia, Europe, Northern Africa
Habitat Highland and lowland lakes, rivers, streams, marshes, swamp forests and coastal areas
Wild population Not known from many parts of its range. In United Kingdom 10,395 (2004) (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 146 reported to ISIS (2005)

In the Zoo

Eurasian Otter, Common Otter, European Otter


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 82 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


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Why do zoos keep this animal

In the course of the 20th century the Eurasian otter has disappeared from large parts of its former range and has become extinct in several countries. Despite extensive research, the causes for this extinction have not yet been clearly determined. Probably a combination of hunting, water pollution by chemicals and a decrease of the fish stocks has led to its gradual disappearance. Until the 1970s, breeding success in zoos was very low. With a view of building up a viable ex situ population, a conservation breeding programme (EEP) was established in Europe. Animals bred under this programme are now kept for educational and research purposes and serve as ambassadors, lobbying for clean water and the restoration of freshwater courses.


Once the reasons for the regional extinction of the otter have been identified and mitigated, animals bred by zoos will be made availbale for reintroduction projects.