It must be said, river otters are pretty cute critters, and playful to watch. Sleek, glistening creatures the size of a small dog, they are also known as river dogs. They like fresh water and make their dens (holts) in rocks, or tree-root systems.
Poet Ted Hughes described an otter re-entering the water as ‘melting’, an apt description. Here in Cornwall, they love to feast on juicy eels but they are not above gobbling all types of freshwater fish, frogs and crustaceans.
Sadly, otters do not live very long – five years is a good lifespan.
There are a few perfect places to see otters in Cornwall. Try Butterwell Farm along the River Camel, an ideal habitat for otters but also other wildlife, such as vibrant kingfishers.
Most adult otters are quite solitary, with males and females tolerating – but generally avoiding – each other. Their pups are blind, toothless and utterly helpless at birth, so Mum spends six months teaching her offspring survival skills, while Dad acts as protector.
Otters are occasionally seen in the sea in Cornwall. These are no different to those you may see in the rivers, as the animals move between the two habitats, especially around the coastal fringes.