For centuries otters have thrived in the
lakes, rivers and expansive coastlines of Wales. Otters move
quickly on land but are best known for their dazzling speed,
agility and endearing playfulness in the water.
While they move easily on land – covering up
to 10 km a night – otters are the swimming athletes of the animal
kingdom. A powerful tail propels their perfectly
streamlined body effortlessly through the water.
At up to a metre in length including their
tails, otters are large animals but are seldom spotted. Their
senses are highly acute and if they see, hear or smell a predator
or person, they swiftly conceal themselves in undergrowth or
Otters come to life at night when they hunt
for prey, breed and socialise. During the day they lay back
and relax in bramble bushes or tall grass. Otters prey mainly
on fish but in spring extend their diet to amphibians, birds and
other small animals.
At a time when they had disappeared from large parts of
lowland England, otters continued to thrive in mainland Wales.
Their numbers dropped sharply during the 1960s and 70s but recent
conservation efforts and better water quality mean they are
returning to their former ranges throughout Wales.