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Otter Surveys

In the UK, Otters (Lutra lutra) were once widespread, but due to high levels of pollution in British Otterwaterways they suffered serious declines. Recent studies now indicate this species to be on the increase, and are now once again found across most of the UK.

Otters are a primarily nocturnal, semi-aquatic species, spending most of the day underground in Holts. At night they forage along rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, canals, marshes, coastal areas and estuaries, primarily for fish.

A single Otter’s territory can range anywhere from 20 to 40 km, with individuals being very territorial, marking their range with spraint (faeces).


Otters are very secretive and so it is unlikely that this species will ever be seen directly during a survey. Instead surveyors look for signs of Otter activity in order to determine presence/absence. These signs will include; foot prints, spraint, holts, runs and foraging signs.

Should signs of Otter activity be found within your site, JCA can provide advice and mitigation on how best to proceed with development.

Otters and the Law:

The Eurasian Otter is a European protected species and so in the UK is protected under both The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended) (better known as the Habitats Regulations) and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). Under these pieces of legislation, it is an offense to:

  • Intentionally kill, injure or take an Otter.

  • Possess or control any live or dead specimen or anything derived from an Otter (unless it can be shown to have been legally acquired).

  • Intentionally or recklessly damage, destroy or obstruct access to any structure or place used for shelter or protection by an Otter.

  • Intentionally or recklessly disturb an Otter while it is occupying a structure or place which it uses for that purpose.

  • Keep, transport, sell or exchange, or offer for sale or exchange a live or dead Otter or any part of an Otter.

Otter survey timeline

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JCA are great arboriculturists and researchers, who get the job done professionally, meticulously and on time.

Lucio Montecchio, Professor at the University of Padova, Italy


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