World Otter Day – On the occasion of World Otter Day, we discover something more about this splendid animal, in serious danger of life, unfortunately.
Among the most curious and particular animals to observe and study all over the world there are them, the aquatic mammals. It always leaves us speechless to think of creatures that, from a biological point of view, have many things in common with us human beings or with other animals that we know very well and are part of our ecosystem, sometimes even living in symbiosis with us .
But from the point of view of the habitat (where by this term we do not mean only the house, but also the set of all uses and customs) aquatic mammals seem to be fish in all respects. It is a very exciting thing from many points of view. Think if you could safely live underwater or near a source, where you can immerse yourself as many times as you want and even be able to hold your breath, without suffering, and then swim in that relaxing liquid for several minutes. Wouldn’t it be wonderful? Well, aquatic mammals can live like this. Today we will talk about one of them: the Otter.
On the occasion of the World Otter Day, we decided to concentrate for a moment to reflect on this animal, its peculiar characteristics and what is its current state of conservation. It is the case that we open our eyes to what is, in all respects, a real problem to be faced. And if we don’t move immediately, it may be too late for us. Here’s all you need to know.
World Otter Day: what we know and can still know before it disappears
Today is celebrated everywhere World Otter Day: an opportunity for zoos, aquariums, various organizations and all of us not only to enjoy this fantastic mammal, but also to raise awareness, on a global scale, about the theme of its survival (currently it is very at risk) . This is in order to make sure we have it around nature and in the sanctuaries of the years for many more years to come. With that in mind, we thought that we would help people get involved by offering some fun facts for kids about otters from around the world and a piece focused on otters currently living in Europe.
Did you know that …
- The otter is a mammal that eats meat. It is part of the weasel family called Lutra Lutra
- There are thirteen species of otters found globally. There are some species of otters that live exclusively in water, but there are also other types of otters that live between land and water
- An otter’s den is called a “sofa” or “holt” (in English). If you see a group of otters, they are called “cottage”, “bevy”, “family” or “romp”. When they are together in the water, the group is called “raft”
- In the wild, otters can live for up to sixteen years
- Otters are known to be very active hunters. They like to spend a lot of time hunting for prey through the water or looking for food in rivers and sea beds. Fish and frogs are the main dishes for the otter, but it could also eat crabs
- Some species like to transport a “special” rock that they use to destroy crustaceans
- Otters, depending on the species, vary in size. The smallest, the Oriental otter with small claws, reaches about two feet (i.e. sixty centimeters) and weighs a kilogram, up to large giant otters and sea otters that grow up to almost six feet (more or less two meters) and even weigh forty-five kilograms
- Most of marine mammals it has a layer of insulating grease, but not the otter. They benefit from the air that gets trapped in their fur that keeps them warm
- Otters love recreation. Just like you and me, it is often thought that they are involved in some activities just for their enjoyment and not because they have a purpose for them in nature. It is common for them to make water slides so that they can launch themselves down like in a water park
- Otters are a popular animal in Japanese folklore and are called “kawauso”
Everything you need to know about the Eurasian Otter
In the early 1960s, the otters were on the verge of extinction in almost all of Europe, due to river pollution, habitat loss and hunting. But now, thanks in large part to full legal protection, cleaner rivers and a wonderfully managed habitat, the otter is beginning to bloom, slowly but surely, especially in Great Britain, where its habitats are kept safe (in Italy, at on the contrary, the situation is very critical, on the verge of a real emergency). Male otters are called “dogs”, female otters are known as “bitches”. They have a series of large lungs that allow them to remain underwater for up to four minutes and often swim up to four hundred meters before re-emerging. They are not even slow to swim, since they reach the speed of eight mph in the water, as well as being able to overcome us, humans, even when they are ashore.
How big are our otters?
A fully grown otter found in the UK, otherwise known as Eurasian otter, can grow between one hundred centimeters (one meter) and one hundred sixty-five centimeters (over one and a half meters), if measured from head to tail.
What is their appearance like?
The otters that live in our continent have a brown fur, which often has a pale lower part, a long set-up and an aerodynamic body, together with small ears, a long thick tail and webbed feet which, if combined, make the otter a swimmer , a medium level player and hunter (not bad). His eyes and nostrils are positioned high on his head, and this is how he can see and breathe while the rest of his body is immersed in water. Their big mustache, or “vibrissae”, can be used to find food when hunting in dark waters.
Where can otters be found?
In nature, otters are found near coastal areas and in estuaries, as well as in their natural habitats of fresh water with adequate coverage (wild vegetation that keeps them away from the prying, and often evil, eyes of man).
Where do they nest?
The “beds” (also called “holts” in English) are lined with grass and are usually found in the banks of a stream and have an underwater entrance (like the James Bond villains).
How many otters are left in Europe?
Estimates of the pre-breeding season claim that there are about thirteen thousand otters, with this number gradually and progressively increasing year by year. Obviously this applies only to Great Britain, where this species is protected and held in high regard. There are far fewer communities of otters, but quite flourishing and numerous also in other European countries where the degree of awareness and civilization is quite high. If you want to spot some otters in the wild, the best thing you can do is a trip to the nature of the United Kingdom, that is, near estuaries, inside wild ecosystems, which are their natural habitats. It is important to remember to give them plenty of room when you come across these majestic mammals.
Unfortunately, the situation in Italy is very different compared to many other areas. In fact, here the number of otters (wanting to be optimistic) does not exceed the number of four hundred units in the whole territory. The most disturbing thing is that, moreover, they do not disappear due to hunting or habitat loss (these too have a certain weight, but very relative), as is the case for other species, seriously threatened by the Italians. The main cause of the lack of this aquatic mammal in our ecosystem is the very high rate of pollution. There is filth and filth everywhere: Italy is among the “grossest” countries in Europe. And there is only one to be ashamed of: since in addition to hurting ourselves, we are practically exterminating other life forms in full. It is like genocide carried out using dirt. We are transforming our home into an open-air landfill, and no living creature is able to build its home inside a landfill (except cockroaches, of course).
That’s why World Otter Day should be considered a particularly important event for us Italians. We have to realize the “casino” that we are combining. We were once the center of a fantasy world. Today we are the dustbin in which we ourselves leave the waste and we do not care.