There are otters aplenty in Scotland but of all the animals we have featured, they are perhaps the ones you are least likely to spot. They are in Loch Lubnaig at Strathyre and they are also reported to be returning to Loch Long at Ardgartan Argyll. You should be able to see signs of where they have been but you will need immense patience to actually spot one. Look for 5-toed footprints, about 6cm long, and droppings (or spraints) with visible fish bones and a distinctive aroma which has been described as jasmine tea or hay.
While otters almost disappeared in England at one point, they have continued to flourish in Scotland’s clear waters. About half of Scotland’s otters live in the sea off the West Coast and around the islands. As mustelids, otters are related to our much loved friend, the pine marten. They have long, streamlined bodies and webbed feet with a thick tail, which acts as a rudder. They have dense fur and are brown with a cream underbelly.
• Otters rest and have their young in underground burrows called holts
• In north-west Scotland, otters are often called by their Gaelic name, Beaste Dubh, which translates as Black Beast
• Otters close their eyes and nostrils when swimming
• Freshwater otters are largely nocturnal, while coastal otters are active during the dayine martens are members of the mustelid family, their close relations being the weasel, stoat and mink