Territory: the otter is a shy, solitary animal and needs a large territory. One male has a territory of up to 40km of clean, undisturbed riverbank. It regularly patrols the territory, marking it here and there with droppings called 'spraints'. These have a scent which tells other otters that the territory is already occupied. Female otters also spraint to mark territory. Female otters with cubs live in holt which is often away from the riverbank and well hidden in a smaller territory within the male's territory, who is usually the cubs' father.
Daily Life: otters are mainly nocturnal and hunt in open, marshy places, rivers, lakes, seashores and estuaries. They will often travel a long way overland, from one river system to another, in search of food. However, the majority of the UK's otters are now found on our wilder coasts. They are strong, agile swimmers and catch fish by chasing them underwater. They grip the prey with sharp teeth and powerful jaws, carrying the catch ashore to eat it. An adult otter needs to eat 20 per cent of its body weight in food every day - about 2.5kg.
In undisturbed areas an otter often spends part of the day playing away from water, near to a 'lying up' den, which is usually under riverside tree roots.
An otter grooms itself frequently and this keeps its coat sleek and waterproof. The coat's long, stiff guard hairs are covered with oil to repel water. The thick underfur traps an insulating layer of air and the skin never gets wet.
Read More: Otters and Humans