The otter has a snout-vent length of up to 90 cm, plus a tail of 40 cm. The cross-sectionally round and muscular tail serves the otter as a control and stabilising organ.
Otters have a shoulder height of about 25 to 30 cm. Adult otters can reach a body weight of up to 12 kg. On average, females weigh about 7.4 and males 10.5 kg. The body is elongated and cylindrical and the legs are short, the head is rounded and blunt-nosed, and there are long tactile hairs on the snout, which are an important sensory organ in murky water. The toes are connected with webbings The fur is light brown. With age, the throat and fore-neck turn whitish.
The otter's fur provides particularly effective insulation against cold and wetness due to the unusual structure of its hairs: the hairs are interlocked, like a zip, by microscopic interlocking wedges and grooves. The result is an extraordinarily dense fur mesh that holds insulating air bubbles but repels water at the same time. In this way, the otter's skin remains dry and its body warm.
It prefers shallow rivers with vegetated banks and flood plains. The decline of such habitats and hunting have led to the European otter disappearing in some places and becoming extremely rare in many areas. However, it can cope with all types of freshwater habitats as long as the waters are clear and rich in fish and offer it sufficient hiding places along the banks.
It reveals its presence by well-camouflaged exits on the banks. Otter droppings (scats), marking secretions and prey remains can be found along the occasionally trodden otter paths. On muddy ground or in snow, not only the footprints (tracks) can be seen, but also the drag marks of the tail.
The text is a translation of an excerpt from Wikipedia (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fischotter). On wikipedia the text is available under a „Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike“ licence. Status: 31 August 2021