Otters on the River Eden

A boxing day walk along the river Eden in Carlisle and a unique chance to see one of our elusive riverside otters.

Otter on the river Eden

Clearly visible against the snow and ice, the size and flattened head of this animal would suggest that it is a dog or male otter.

There had been many reports throughout the year of otters living along the banks of the river Eden, as it runs through Carlisle.

The River Eden and its tributaries are located in the Eden Valley, Cumbria and flow through some of the most beautiful landscapes, including the Lake District National Park.

Winter otters

This mid morning sighting is also rare because otters are mainly nocturnal mammals.

Otters are about the size of a small/medium dog, measuring 100-120cm in length and weighing about 8-10kgs, with male otters larger than females.

Thick, shiny brown fur has smaller guard hairs underneath, offering superb waterproofing and insulation.

Otters will live along well vegetated river banks, with an extensive home range, up to 30km along the river.

An otter’s diet is varied and in the River Eden region will consist of crayfish, bullheads, eels, perch or trout and salmon.  They need to consume about 15% of their body weight in food each day.

otter on the river Eden

Naturally inquisitive and playful, otters like playing on the ice and snow

Although otters live up to 10 years, current figures in Cumbria suggest that there is a high, 50% mortality rate at about three years.

Making a return

Once a highly endangered species in Europe, the otter has made a gradual return since the abolition of the use of many agricultural chemicals.

Otters are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside act (1981) and the European Habitats Directive (1992).

Frozen waters this winter have limited the Otter’s hunting ground and taken away their natural camouflage against the trees and grasses, giving us a rare opportunity to see this elusive animal.

Dog otter

Clearly visible against the snow and ice, the size and flattened head of this animal would suggest that it is a dog or male otter.

Otters are very secretive by nature, always wary, they will disappear at the merest whiff of human scent.  These rare glimpses of one of Britain’s wildest creatures is always a treat and an unforgettable experience.

More information

Charlie Hamilton James Photography – The wildlife photographer of Halcyon River Diaries fame has taken some stunning otter images.

Countryfile – Ellie goes otter spotting in North Uist.

International Otter Survival Fund – Find out more about otters and their habitat.

Eden Rivers Trust – Otters making a comeback along the River Eden.

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