The fish otter, common otter or the Eurasian otter is found in the waterways and on the coasts in Europe, Asia and Africa. In Finland it can be found throughout the country, though less often on the south-western coastlines. The common otter needs waterways, lakes and rivers, as its habitat. Their webbed feet, slender body structure, and long tail foretell of great aquatic adaptation, they also close their ears and nostrils while diving under water. The common otter is mainly dusk and night-active, preferring a solitary existence in its territory. It feeds on frogs, crayfish, waterbird’s eggs and young ones as well as fish.
The common otter has been hunted for its fur, and the common otter population in Finland has been close to extinction a couple of times. In 1939–1950 the otter was a protected species, and again in the 1970’s; these periods made the common otter population to rebound well and nowadays the species is thriving, though not in large amounts, throughout the country. In 2015 the common otter was considered a thriving species in Finland; in Europe it is still considered an endangered species. Its greatest threat is the traffic, and pesticides in the water. Our otters, Harri and Olli, are visitors' favourites. The playful fellows are part of the European Endangered Species Program (EEP).
ADAPTING TO THE WINTER
The common otter continues its active life throughout the winter, catching fish, and staying dry due to its impermeable fur coating.
CLASS: Mammalia - mammals
ORDER: Carnivora- carnivores
FAMILY: Mustelidae - Mustelids
SIZE: Weight: 5-15kg, length: 50-100cm + length of tail 26-55cm, male larger than female.
BREEDING: Heat: may be repeatedly through the year, most commonly in spring or summer. Gestation period: 60 days and nights; possible delayed fetogenesis. Offspring: 1-3 at a time. Independent in 1 year, sexual maturity reached in 2-3 years.
LIFESPAN: 15–18 years.