Eurasian Otter Pictures, Stock Photos, Images, Illustrations

Top Left Solid Corner

Eurasian Otter, Lutra lutra, Pictures, Stock Photos, Images and Illustrations

Top Right Solid Corner

The Eurasian otter, also known as the European otter, is the world's most widely distributed otter. While primarily a freshwater species, it can forage in marine habitats provided there is freshwater nearby.

The Eurasian otter's range extends from the Atlantic coast of Europe and North Africa to the Pacific coast of Russia, Japan, China, and Korea, as well as anywhere in between where suitable habitat remains. It has managed to adapt to a variety of habitats, and can be found in rivers, streams, lakes, fjords, swamps, wetlands, canals, ricefields, and along the ocean coast.

Eurasian otters have a typical otter body, which is long and slender with short legs and a long, thick tail that tapers at the end. Their feet have sharp claws and are webbed for swimming. Their nostrils can be closed while they swim underwater for up to 20 seconds, hunting for fish or other food. Their underwater speed is estimated at 12 km/hr.

Light-colored vibrissae (whiskers) extend from their muzzle and have an important sensory function, as they help otters feel the movement of prey in the water even when it's dark or the water is murky. Besides this, Eurasian otters have excellent vision, hearing and sense of smell.


Eurasian Otter Picture
Picture of Eurasian otter, common otter or European otter, Lutra lutra Image #: 074386

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Subphylum: Vertebrata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Suborder: Caniformia/Canoidea

Family: Mustelidae/Mustelids

Subfamily: Lutrinae

Genus: Lutra

Specific: lutra

Species: Lutra lutra

>>> More Eurasian Otter Pictures


Eurasian otters weigh between 7 kg (15 lbs) and 9 kg (20 lbs), with males being slightly larger than females. They measure from about 100 cm (39 inches) to 130 cm (51 inches) including the tail, which makes up about a third of their length.

The Eurasian otter's fur is a light grayish brown to chocolate brown, with a lighter colored underbody, throat and cheeks. Their fur has a dense undercoat, which provides warmth in cold water and northern climates. River otters have been observed spending a lot of time grooming themselves, which helps to maintain the insulating qualities of their fur.

Eurasian otters eat fish, amphibians, crayfish, crabs, snakes, eggs, shellfish, birds, small mammals, and other prey they can catch in or near the water. They use their mouths to catch food, and their paws for swimming, maneuvering and grasping. Eurasian otters are generally active at night or dusk, but can be diurnal as well, particularly along the ocean coast.

Eurasian otters have a high metabolic rate and so must eat a lot. They are sometimes blamed for depleting fish populations at fish farms and in rivers popular with fishermen. However, the fish they prefer are mostly slow-moving rough fish that are not desired by fishermen, so direct competition with fishermen is unlikely.

Eurasian otters are the most solitary of otter species. Males inhabit a range of 7 to 40 kilometers, which they do not share with other males, but which may overlap the ranges of several females. They deposit spraint (scat) and use scent glands to mark their territory.

The dens of Eurasian river otters (called holts) are generally natural hollows, spaces under fallen trees or rocks, cleared areas in dense vegetation, or sometimes the borrowed dens of other animals.

Eurasian otters that inhabit cold climates breed in spring, while those that live in warm climates may breed at any time of year. Eurasian otters cannot delay implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus like New World otters do. Gestation lasts two months, and litters are typically two or three pups. Pups open their eyes after one month, begin to swim at 2 months, and are weaned at 3-4 months. Their lifespan is estimated to be about 10 years in the wild.

Eurasian otters are preyed upon by wolves, eagles and lynx, but as with many otter species, their most serious threat is man. The IUCN lists Eurasian otters as Near Threatened. Due to the immensity of their range, they are more threatened in some areas than others. Some countries have weak environmental laws or lack the means to enforce the laws they have. Information about their numbers is lacking in many of the countries they inhabit, so it's difficult to determine the precise level of threat. Hunting, trapping, habitat loss, pesticides and pollution are known to be threats to Eurasian otters throughout much of their range.

In general, this species of otter is recovering in Western Europe, where efforts have been made to reintroduce them to areas where they were historically displaced. However, otters in Europe face the problem of increased traffic fatalities as they are often on the move and frequently cross roads in their quest for food.

Taxonomists describe Eurasian otters as Lutra lutra, lutra being the designation for Old World otters. Some antiquated sources still use the genus term Lutra to describe New World otters (for example, Lutra Canadensis), but taxonomists now agree that New World otters should properly be described as genus Lontra, not Lutra. Like all otters, Eurasian otters are in the order Carnivora, family Mustelidae, and subfamily Lutrinae.

There are many presumed subspecies of Eurasian otter. The following list contains Eurasian otter names that have appeared in taxonomy databases on the Internet. The list is not presumed to be exhaustive, and subspecies names are not all scientifically accepted.

Lutra lutra angustifrons - Lataste, 1885; Algeria
Lutra lutra aurobrunnea - Hodgson, 1868; Nepal
Lutra lutra barang - Cuvier, 1823; Southeast Asia
Lutra lutra chinensis - Gray 1837; China and Taiwan
Lutra lutra hainana - Xu and Lu, 1983; China
Lutra lutra kutab - Schinz, 1844; Kashmir, Tibet
Lutra lutra lutra - Linnaeus, 1758; Europe, Russia
Lutra lutra meridionalis - Ognev 1931; northern Iran
Lutra lutra monticola (also monticolus) - Hodgson, 1839; northern India, Nepal
Lutra lutra nair - Cuvier, 1823; southern India, Sri Lanka
Lutra lutra roensis - Ogillby, 1834; Ireland
Lutra lutra seistanica - Birula, 1913; Afghanistan, Iran
Lutronectes whiteleyi - Gray, 1847; Hokkaido (Japan)

Alternate names: Eurasian Otter, European Otter, European River Otter, Common Otter, Old World Otter, Loutre Commune, Loutre d'Europe, Loutre de Riviere, Nutria Comun, Fischotter

© Eurasian otter information assembled from on-line sources by Kevin Miller on June 3, 2008 for