Wild life and nature of Samos, Ikaria & Fournoi

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Mammals

Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra)

Description

The Eurasian Otter is an average sized mammal, which can reach a length of around 70-90 cm. It has sleek brown fur with stripes along the sides and under the face down to the belly. It is possible to easily recognize their prints because of their webbed paws. Eurasian otters are mostly solitary with only temporary pairing of mates or mothers with their young, They are however sometimes found in loosely knit groups of up to six animals. Each female otter usually gives birth to 2 or 3 cubs. The cubs' eyes open after one month and they begin to leave the nest after two months. Otters can be considered lucky if they reach the age of 4. However, there have been cases of otters living from 8 to 12 years, this is however suspected that only one or two in a hundred will survive until this sort of age. Otters are quite playful and have been observed sliding down mudbanks on their bellies. Both juveniles and adults play, trot, gallop, slide, and chase each other in water. This behavior is thought to help young otters perfect their hunting techniques.

Habitat

The Otter can found in lakes, streams, rivers and salt water along the coast, although they need to have access to fresh water to clean their fur. The animal also requires clean water since they don’t deal well with pollution.

Diet

The Otter is an opportunistic feeder with a diet mainly composed of fish, but it occasionally feeds on birds, frogs, crustaceans and small mammals.

Protection status

The Eurasian Otter is currently listed as " Near threatened" on the IUCN Red List and as "Appendix II'' at the Bern convention, EU Habitats and Species Directives has it listed as ''Annexes II and IV'' and CITES has it listed as ''Appendix I''. The Eurasian Otter declined heavily during the second half of the 20th century but managed to increase their presence by 55% between 1994 and 2002 and have been on a steady rise ever since.

Interesting facts

Mother otters often teach their cubs how to hunt by catching live fish and releasing them for the cubs to chase and re-catch so they get a feel for the chase and the movements of the fish.

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