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28 October 2014

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You are in: Cambridgeshire > Features > Your County > Be an otter spotter!


In a ring of bright water...

Be an otter spotter!

The elusive otter is coming to a ring of bright water near you! A new survey reveals these cute creatures are very much alive and well and basking in the county's waterways.

The common otter

  • Otters are one of our largest mammals measuring up to 120cm.
  • They have webbed feet and five toes.
  • Mainly nocturnal, they spend most of the day in underground holts.
  • Otters are carnivorous and eat around a kilo of food a day, mainly fish.
  • They can breed at any time of the year and babies stay with their mother for a year.
  • Otters hunt by touch - their whiskers pick up vibrations of fish.
  • Otters in Cambridgeshire were almost extinct by 1992.
  • The otter's Latin name is Lutra Lutra.

It will probably come as quite a surprise to find out that graceful, playful otters can be seen swimming through Cambridgeshire's rivers and streams - IF you know where to look!

Volunteers from a variety of local environmental organisations have just completed the latest survey of the county's otter population, and the good news is that there's still plenty of evidence that otters are thriving in waterways from Peterborough and the Fens, to Cambridge in the south.

Only 15 years ago, according to The Wildlife Trust, otters had almost disappeared from Cambridgeshire, but, staff and volunteers from the Trust, Cambridgeshire Mammal Group and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Water for Wildlife Project have found evidence of a significant increase in otter numbers since the last survey, carried out five years ago.


Ruth Hawksley, Water for Wildlife officer, said : "It’s brilliant that we’ve got a growing otter population in the county. With the help of local groups and landowners we plan to use the results to improve our rivers and riverside habitats for otters".

Where can you spot an otter?

Cambridge city

Back in 1992, the River Cam, upstream from the city, was the only part of the county where otters could be found. Today, there's evidence of a growing population on both the Cam and the Granta, as well as some of the smaller tributaries.

"We plan to use the results to improve our rivers and riverside habitats for otters"

Ruth Hawksley

East Cambridgeshire

Otters continue to make themselves at home on the Great Ouse, Ouse Washes, Lark and Little Ouse. New sites have also been found on the uppermost reaches of the Stour and on Soham Lode.


There's evidence of growing numbers of otters on the Great Ouse, plus new sites on the Ellington and Alconbury brooks. Numbers do appear to be in decline on the River Kym, although the report suggests that this may have been because of high water at the time of the survey.

Fenland and district

A huge increase in otter numbers has been found since the last survey, especially along the old course of the River Nene, the North Level Main Drain and the Twenty Foot River. In 2002 there was only one otter site in this area. The 2007 survey found evidence of 13 sites.


A healthy number of otter sites were found along the River Nene, together with new otter sites on Carr Dyke.

How to become an otter spotter

If you're interested in helping to monitor the county's otter population, get in touch with Ruth Hawksley at the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Water for Wildlife Project on 01954 713555.

last updated: 26/03/2008 at 14:22
created: 06/06/2007

You are in: Cambridgeshire > Features > Your County > Be an otter spotter!

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