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Wildlife in Italy: Otter Lutra lutra

Wildlife in Italy: Otter Lutra lutra


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Systematic classification and distribution

Class: Mammals
Order: Carnivores
Family: Weasel
Kind: Lutra
Species: lutra

Widespread in Eurasia, Indomalesia, Palestine, Morocco and Algeria. In Italy it was once widespread throughout the peninsula while today it is very localized and in sharp decline.

Otter (photo www.bioport.hu)

Otter (photo www.vydry.org)

Distinctive characters

Head-body length 60-65 cm, tail 35-55 cm; shoulder height 30 cm; weight 6-15 kg. It has a flattened head, very small and rounded ears, a short and indistinguishable neck, a long body with legs equipped with interdigital membranes for swimming even underwater. The eyes are provided with a particular mechanism for accommodating the lens which allows it to see well even when diving. The color of the coat is dark brown dorsally, lighter in the ventral area.

Biology

The natural habitat of the Otter is identified with lowland and mountain aquatic environments (lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, lagoons, etc.). Overall, unlike European land mammals, the Otter is adapted to life and aquatic hunting. Mostly nocturnal, hunting alone or in small groups. In water it uses the tail as a propeller the tail and as a rudder, especially in the depths of the limbs. Its lair, always arranged along the banks of rivers or lakes, has an underwater entrance and at least one breather on dry land. The heat periods would be two: December-March and June-July. Gestation lasts for 9-10 months. At birth, 2-4 puppies are born and remain blind for up to 28-35 days. The young are self-sufficient at 6-9 months and development is completed around 2 years; life span is around 13-15 years. He loves to play a lot, rolling on the muddy banks and taking stones that he throws in the water and then fishing them out. The hunting area is about 5-15 km wide and is marked along the banks of rivers or lakes. Grab prey on the surface if it is a bird or deep if it is a fish. Unmistakable sign of its presence are the numerous fish bones left along the banks.


Video: A Love Like No Otter from Aquarium Love Stories (May 2022).