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Atlas der Säugetiere Nordrhein-Westfalens

AG Säugetierkunde in NRW

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European otter

Rote Liste NRW: 1 Vom Aussterben bedroht

Lutra lutra




Foto: Jan Ole Kriegs
The otter is perfectly adapted to life in water. Natural water bodies with diversely structured riverbanks and rich vegetation are the optimal habitat of this large mustelid. If sufficient hiding places are present in an area and if there is enough food, the otter sometimes also accepts straightened rivers. It is important that he can find his main food, small to mid-sized fishes or other aquatic animals like crabs or insects. In search of new territories Otters can efficiently cover larger distances over land. In areas with much human activity the animals are mostly nocturnal, which is why they can only be observed with difficulty. But tracks and droppings of the otter are distinctive and easily recognized with some practice. Such indirect cues indicate areas where otters are present with high accuracy.

After the extinction of the otter in North Rhine-Westphalia during the first half of the 20th century the species could only occasionally be recorded here. In the years 2007-2009 a small population was re-discovered in the Münsterland. The population genetics of the otters were examined using faecal samples. They were animals that were genetically related to otters from Lower Saxony. In the far west of the Münsterland they are in contact with otters from the Netherlands, which goes back to a reintroduction project releasing animals from Eastern Europe. Since the winter of 2013/2014 otters are known from the left-bank of the Rhine River in the border area near Kranenburg (Düffel) and in 2014 the species could also be verified in a variety of creek systems in the northern County of Steinfurt.


Jan Ole Kriegs


Kriegs JO (2023): Fischotter (Lutra lutra).In: AG Säugetierkunde NRW — Online-Atlas of the mammals of North Rhine-Westphalia. Downloaded from saeugeratlas-nrw.lwl.org on 2023/03/26



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