Otter Joy's Guest Book

Welcome! If you have any questions about otters, or comments about the site, please email me or sign the guest book.

Sign the Guest Book
Visitor's Name: David
You are from: Scotland
You like otters because: My interest in otters was originally inspired by the books of Gavin Maxwell.
Comments: For anyone who would like to know more about Gavin Maxwell, his books and books written by people who knew him, there is now a Facebook Group "The Gavin Maxwell Society."  Membership is completely free and new members are welcome! 
On YouTube, there is now a copy of the BBC TV programme "Memories of Maxwell" which was first broadcast in February, 1999. This includes many scenes taken from a film made at Sandaig by Gavin's brother Eustace in 1960.   
Sign Time: Tuesday, 14th February 2014
Otter Joy Replies: Hi Wendy, The best source of information is Reseau Loutres .   Their website has a lot of resources on otters in France, and has web forms for submitting otter sightings and what to do if you come across a dead otter.

Visitor's Name: Wendy Ells
You are from: Brittany, France
You like otters because: They are such fun, beautiful creatures and so rare for 'ordinary' people to see.
Comments: We have recently moved to the north coast of Brittany and have sighted an otter twice and seen footprints once. Where can I find an up to date map of otter distribution in Brittany? The only one I can find dates back to 2009.
Sign Time: Tuesday, 4th February 2014
Otter Joy Replies: Hi Wendy, The best source of information is Reseau Loutres .   Their website has a lot of resources on otters in France, and has web forms for submitting otter sightings and what to do if you come across a dead otter.

Visitor's Name: Gary
You are from: Australia
Your Website:
You like otters because: They are a beautiful creature, playful and fun to watch.
Comments: I had to come back for another look, great site.
Sign Time: Monday, 4th November 2013
Otter Joy Replies: I'm glad you like otters and the website!

Visitor's Name: Louis
You are from: Johannesburg, South Africa
You like otters because: They are full of fun, mischief and like to play.... if only we could be more like them!
Comments: Thank you Lesley for the super site! Keep up the good work!

Guess what I'm reading at he moment: Ring of Bright Water by Gavin Maxwell. Great reading!(Is "Maxwell's Otter" still recognized?)

Take care all you Otter Loco's!
Sign Time: Monday, 4th November 2013
Otter Joy Replies: It's a good book but so sad at the end.  We need more happy books about otters!  And yes, Maxwell's Otter is not only still recognised, but has been rediscovered having thought to be extinct.  You can read about it here

Visitor's Name: Dennis
You are from: The Great Lake State
You like otters because: Otters make me smile.
Comments: Otters make me smile because they take me back to a time when life was good and real. If i see them at the lake,or on tv,or read a story about them i go back...back to my childhood and the eight Otters i grew up with Debi,Cyndi,Lori,Shari,Ricky,Jayne,Donna,Patti,all Otters that i love and miss.I'm living proof that Otters should stick together and never leave the nest.Otters are not meant to live alone,they need each other,they need to be part of a family.I made that choice and now im alone,watching the fun and frolicing from a distance.Thanks for the site,it took me back again,back to being an Otter.
Sign Time: Monday, 4th November 2013

Visitor's Name: Amy Graydon
You are from: Kippen
You like otters because: Because there is so much to learn about them
Comments: How do otters breed and how do they hunt?
Sign Time: Monday, 4th November 2013
Otter Joy Replies: You can read about this on my Species pages , Amy - there are entries for several otter species that will give you more information.

Visitor's Name: Sierota
You are from: Gulf Shores, Alabama
You like otters because: Otters are so adorable and energetic! When I was 19 y/o, I was reading by a pond enjoying the tranquility of nature. I kept hearing muffled chirping sounds from down by the bank but could not see what was making the noises. Upon closer inspection I found a young otter! It was no longer than 7" with tiny little paws. It was all alone and sounded so sad. The little critter played with me for hours that day. I saw him for the next two days following. Then that adorable little ball of fur vanished and I was left with a tiny hole in my heart...yet an experience I will cherish for my entire lifetime! How often does one get to socialize and play with an absolutely wild animal? Reading how important otters can be to the aquatic ecosystems, I find it appalling that so many species of otters are becoming endangered! These cute furry critters are lacking the respect and safety they deserve...they are willing to socialize with us (I'm living proof!) so mankind should be inviting otters to the party of the new millennium - and make sure they have a home for generations to come!
Sign Time: Thursday, 11th April 2013
Otter Joy Replies: That was an amazing experience, Seriota.  Was there any sign of the otter's mother?

Visitor's Name: Nannette
Comments: Do you know if there are any sea otters in aquariums or zoos in the UK or Europe ?
Sign Time: Saturday, 23 February 2013
Otter Joy Replies: The only sea otters in Europe are at the Lisbon Oceanarium.  There used to be some at Antwerp but they have all passed away now [Source: International Species Information System]

Visitor's Name: Kristian Ole Rørbye
You are from: Denmark
You like otters because: I think its an interesting animal!
Comments: Great website u have here about Otters.
When will u add more books?
Sign Time: Saturday, 8 December 2012
Otter Joy Replies: When I find an otter book, I review and add it!  But of course they have to be in English and there are not many around. 
I have added two new books for this Christmas:
Bee, a Particular Otter
Otter Country

Visitor's Name: Colin Stafford
You are from: Scotland
You like otters because: After reading 'Ring of Bright Water' by Gavin Maxwell years ago I was hooked!! I have given talks and rescued 2 otter cubs, one of them shared my sleeping bag!It was reared by the Vincent Wildlife Trust. and    
Comments: This otter when adult was released in Wales with a radio harness and by the way they called it Colin.
Sign Time: Friday, 29 Juine 2012
Otter Joy Replies: That's brilliant!  It's still people like you that spot otters needing help, but in Scotland now the International Otter Survival Fund are the people who rescue and rehabilitate them.  I hope Colin the Otter had a long, happy life and sired lots of cubs!

Visitor's Name: Aadrean
You are from: West Sumatra Indonesia
You like otters because: Otter is my research
Comments: Wow...This is a funny things, I was not aware before that this website is yours, Lesley. ^_^.
By this website, now I know that who you are behind as otter specialist.
Great! Two thumbs up! salute! You are inspiring me!
Sign Time: Monday, 2 April 2012
Otter Joy Replies: Hi Aad! You have discovered my secret otter identity!  This is how I started with otters before I ever hoped to join the Otter Specialist Group!

Visitor's Name: Anna "CorgiOtter" C
You are from: Florida USA
You like otters because: OTTERS ROCK! and so do corgis
Comments: Does anyone know what kind of river otters we have in North Florida?  My sister has seen them in the creeks, but I never have...:-(
Sign Time: Friday, 23 March 2012
Otter Joy Replies: Hi Ann! All the land otters in North America belong to the same species, called, sensibly enough, the North American River Otter (Lontra canadensis).  You can read more about them here: IUCN/SSC Otter Specialist Group: North American River Otter

Visitor's Name: Nichole Marcantonio
You are from: Alabama
You like otters because: They are so intriguing and playful!
Comments: I have a question. It is my life's goal to be able to interact with an otter. I am a tad obsessed with otters and I've learned about as much as I can about them (while being in school). My question is, is there anywhere I can go to be able to get up close and personal with an otter??? I've been to the zoos and aquariums but I really, really want to be able to touch, feed, or play with one. Any ideas?? It would make my life. Thanks!
Sign Time: Wednesday, 1 February 2012
Otter Joy Replies: Hi Nichole.  It is a huge privilege and rare experience to get close to an otter because they are large and, like all wild animals, can be very dangerous unless reallly, really tame.  Even the tamest otter is still a powerful creature and if it is alarmed or frightened, you can get badly injured.  They play rough too, because they can do so safely with one another and don't realise our skin is so fragile!  There are really two ways you can get closer to otters and both require dedication.  The first is to volunteer at a wild animal rescue and rehabilitation shelter, get lots of experience raising baby animals, and handling adults, and then in time take up this line of work in an area where otters are often rescued as adults or babies.  The other is to become an animal trainer, work hard gaining experience and then get a job at one of the facilities that do close contact work with otters as well as the other animals.  Apart from that, in some states there are folk who have long term resident otters that cannot return to the wild for some reason - if you can find such a person, they will often welcome a volunteer 'baby sitter'.  But you must always be aware that you are with a potentially dangerous wild animal - it does not honour the otter's nature to see them as cute and cuddly (although, if tame and in the mood, they CAN be) - an otter must always remain true to its calling!

Visitor's Name: Greg
You are from: Vancouver Island
You like otters because: They're funny to watch
Comments: how does an otter catch crab without getting a claw on the nose or loosing a toe? they catch 5 to 6 inch rock crab here, then climb into my moored canoe to feast. they only eat the body meat and digestive track - no- claws or legs are eaten. If you've ever gotten "pinched" by a crab claw, you can appreciate that no otter is going to come away uninjured if a crab gets a hold of a paw or even a leg.  So how do they get them to the surface, climb into my canoe and feast, without loosing an appendage ????
Sign Time: Monday, 28 March 2011
Otter Joy Replies: Hi Greg,  Experienced otters know to approach the crab from the back, grab it and then prise the "lid" off to get to the meat without coming into range of the legs.  Incautious cubs ofter do it wrong, and do get nipped on the nose!  Usually a mother otter will bring her cubs small crabs so they can get the hang of how to handle them without getting hurt before moving up to the big crabs!

Visitor's Name: Paul
You are from: UK and Kerala, India
Your Website is:
You like otters because: How could anyone not...!?

Thanks for your help on identifying our otters in Kerala. I hope we see them again and I hope one day we get some photos of them too.

Watched an otter and a fox cub digging crabs on a beach in the twilight in S Ireland summer 2010.  When the fox cub fancied a crab that otter felt was already claimed the cub got a nip in the leg and scampered off.  A little later the fox cub returned with Ma (or Pa) and appeared to show ' thats him '.  But I suspect the cub was told to behave for the parent went off to the next little cove and began digging busily for crabs there.  The cub joined the otter again and tho digging within a yard or so was careful not to pounce on any crabs in the otter's diggings. 

(It was all so mesmerising that I stayed several nights to watch.  Another evening two otters played in the small waves rolling up the beach. On another night fox cubs kept arriving until there were four and both parents....   oops, sorry to get onto foxes on an otter site)

Sign Time: Thursday, 17 February 2011

Visitor's Name: Louis
You are from: Johannesburg, South Africa
You like otters because: They are full of fun, mischief and like to play.... if only we could be more like them!

Thank you Lesley for the super site! Keep up the good work!

Guess what I'm reading at he moment: Ring of Bright Water by Gavin Maxwell. Great reading!(Is "Maxwell's Otter" still recognized?)

Take care all you Otter Loco's!

Sign Time: Friday, 15 October 2010
Otter Joy Replies: Thanks, Louis - glad you like the site.  Re Maxwell's Otter - colleagues working in Iraq have found signs of smooth-coated otters in the marshes where Maxwell found his otter.  There is currently an attempt to test the DNA from confiscated poached skins against the type specimen at the London Natural History Museum to find out if that subspecies does still exist despite the terrible damage done to the marshes.

Visitor's Name: Angus Stewart
You are from: Tobermory
You like otters because: Star of the film i am working on.

Interesting site -  A chap I know told me his grandfather told him that otter skins were used to trap gold in a river here. I am guessing this would be a hundred years back. Have you heard of such a thing before? I was suspicious as the skin would be a valuable thing to use for such a job. Enjoyed your site, thanks.

Sign Time: Wednesday, 25 August 2010
Otter Joy Replies: Otter fur is incredibly thick, and almost waterproof - I would have thought the water (and gold) would simply wash over the surface.  Neither does the fur have lanolin in, like sheep fleece does (and fleeces are still used in Georgia for trapping gold particles).  I suppose if you shaved off the shiny guardhairs and just had the thick underfur, it might work, but I agree, it would be cheaper to use a sheep fleece!

Visitor's Name: Alan
You are from: UK
You like otters because: What's not to love?
.. Other than that strong fishy aroma.. oh well.

As an interesting aside otters turn up as part of a morality tale of unfair hunting and greed in the 12th century manuscript "The Journey Through Wales" by Giraldus Cambrensis (Gerald of Wales). While no otters actually appear there is a detailed description of two welsh lads otter hunting tactics!

Sign Time: Sunday, 22 November 2009

Visitor's Name: Jimmy Lee B
You are from: Los Altos California, USA
You like otters because: There is no better animal - there's nothing better to like. They are one of the few animals on earth with the wisdom to play.

I heard you're going to get some new graphics from a very talented Otter artist! That's great news. I'm a river otter zoo parent, and a big river otter fan. Most press coverage in the USA is on sea otters. It's very exciting to get any news about river otters here - we don't have river otter sanctuaries or pets. Any updates on river otters are welcome. Someday I hope to visit one of those sanctuaries in England!

Sign Time: Wednesday, 29 April 2009
Otter Joy Replies: The new graphics are for an exciting new childrens' otter website called Dara's Den. Watch for the announcement when we go live!  And the artist is indeed very, very talented. 

Visitor's Name: Barbara Adams
You are from: USA
You like otters because: This question is synonymous with “Why do you like ice cream?”

I had the extreme privilege of knowing Joe Davis, author and illustrator of Beever and Company and Samaki, when I was a child. He also did Animals from A to Z which is by far the best alphabet book ever done!! He was and still is a family friend though it has been a while since I talked to him. (Joe...send me an email!!!) We watched Luti one summer while he traversed Africa for the Bronx Zoo.  I believe he was the Curator of Mammals at the time.  Anyway, our basement was converted into an ottery complete with a fiberglass pool if I remember correctly.  Otters remind me of Joe, and Joe reminds me of Otters.  Joe's christmas cards with otters on them are treasured in our family.  Joe was an environmental pioneer, as were my parents, Liz and Karl.  So, thanks Joe, and thanks Luti for bringing your antics to our little home in the suburbs so many years ago

Sign Time: Sunday, 26 April 2009

Visitor's Name: Alan Lauder
You are from: Melbourne Australia
You like otters because: I loved 'Ring of Bright Water' when I was young. However, more recently it has been the Saint Cuthbert connection that has brought a love of otters back into my life.

For a great image of St Cuthbert being venerated by otters see:
Note: This is a modern icon by an artist (for sale, I believe) not a historical image

Sign Time: Tue, 17 Mar 2009

Visitor's Name: Farid Jaafar
You are from: Malaysia
You like otters because: My two children loves them but they can get very aggressive when begging for food. We have been bitten a number of times by the otters but not seriously. They won't bite if they are happy.
Comments: I live on a two acre sort of homestead with surrounding marshes. Inadvertantly I picked up up two baby otters abandoned by its mother when it saw me. It was leading a litter of about five or six baby otters presumably from the pond in front of our home. I was caught by surprise as well as the animals but surprisingly nearly all the baby otters approached me instead of the mother. The parent after giving a warning hiss (or something like it) immediately vanished into the swamps leaving me with two otters! The rest of the litter followed its mother. I tried putting the otters close to where its mother went but it refused to go. So now I'm caring for two wonderful otters of about two months old who don't mind playing with our five cats.
Sign Time: Fri, 27 Feb 2008
Otter Joy replies: Farid and I are corresponding on how to raise the otters, with input from the Otter Specialist Group.  Raising otters is only for people who are very animal-friendly and tolerant, with a lot of experience in bringing up young animals.

Visitor's Name: Ryan Peach
You are from: Spokane Valley, USA
You like otters because: THEY ARE THE BEST ANIMAL IN THE WORLD!
Comments: I want to be an otter biologist. I also want to own a river otter.
Sign Time: Mon, 28 Apr 2008

Visitor's Name: Lisa Otter
You are from: Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
You like otters because: Well mostly because it's my last name and lots of people say I look like an otter and have an otter attitude: Playful, fun and curious. But even if it weren't my last name I'd still love them, they are so adorable.
Comments: This is an otterly fun site.
Sign Time: Wed, 16 Apr 2008

Visitor's Name: Sarah Beningfield
You are from: Johannesburg, South Africa
You like otters because: I just did a speech on endangered animals at school. I learnt all about the Spotted-necked otter and love it!
Comments: I've never actually seen an otter but i really want to, maybe someday.
Sign Time: Wed, 13 Feb 2008

Visitor's Name: P. Dorrit
You are from: California, USA
You like otters because: Is there something not to like?
Comments: Today, Monday 21 January 2008, is the 40th anniversary of the fire at Sandaig which killed Edal, the otter of Ring of Bright water. "Whatever joy she gave to you, give back to nature." -- Gavin Maxwell.
Sign Time: Mon, 21 Jan 2008

Visitor's Name: Cy St-Amand
Your Web Site Otter Works
You are from: Homer Alaska USA
You like otters because: All animals are precious, I just have the fortune of having both wild River Otters and wild Sea Otters in my front yard of Kachemak Bay.
Comments: Our marine mammal stranding volunteers spend a great deal of time working with stranded Sea Otters, and once in a while a River Otter. If you are interested in Alaska sea otters and are interested in helping in some way with the current problems occuring with them, email   And thanks very much to the fine host of this web site, your efforts are greatly appreciated, information is the key to helping animals.  
Sign Time: Sat, 08 Dec 2007 15:52
Otter Joy replies: Thanks for the super pictures of sea otters!

Visitor's Name: Kathlene Wingert
You are from: Elizabethtown, Pa U.S.A.
You like otters because: They are one of the most interesting animals to watch, everything they do, how they play, eat, etc. etc. I just love them!!!! :)
Comments: I have been an otter lover since I was young, I collect all kinds of things that have to do with otters. Anyone who would like to e-mail me about otters , please do. I am always looking for things on otters, pictures, posters, books etc. etc.
Sign Time: Sat, 08 Sep 2007 13:02:39
Otter Joy replies: Otters are totally brilliant. I've just come back from helping with tame otters at a country show, and there is nothing better than a tame otter sleeping in your arms.

Visitor's Name: Kwon, Kyungja
Web Site 10th International Otter Colloquium, October 2007, Hwacheon, South Korea
You are from: South Korea
You like otters because: Because they are so cute, and irresistible^^, even though I was bitten a few times and bleeding.
Sign Time: Thu, 2 Nov 2006 16:09:51
Otter Joy replies: I'm looking forward to the Otter Colloquium in Korea!

Visitor's Name: Kirsten Lien
You like otters because: Because they're otters! :3

I don't see what's the point in hunting otters for fur. How would YOU feel if a little spotted necked otter hunted you down because he wanted your hair for a wig?

Otter Joy replies: Absolutely! That's why I will not report news that encourages otter trapping or killing for sport. I am particularly disturbed by reports that states where otters were hunted to extinction, that have at great expense and effort reintroduced them, now have so-called sportsment aggitating for a 'harvest' i.e. to be able to kill them again. Why can't these people who enjoy killing simply take jobs in slaughterhouses and abbatoirs and then at least contribute to society? People who kill for fun, who imagine it in some way validates their existence or celebrates a connection with their ancestors are beneath contempt.
Sign Time: 26 Sep 2006 14:31:47

Visitor's Name: Stuart Thorpe
You are from: Ouzlewell Green, Wakefield
You like otters because: I love otters because they are smooth to the touch and smell beautiful. They are fantastic companions.

I have been searching for otters for years and keep a few at home in my lake. I am soon moving to Chesterfield to take up a new job and hope to continue my obsession down there. Please e-mail me if you like to talk about otters.

Sign Time: 26 Sep 2006 14:31:47

Visitor's Name:

Danielle Stephens
You are from: Okaihau Northland New Zealand
You like otters because: Everything

Great web site full of info and pics

Sign Time: 1 Aug 2006 16:31:45

Visitor's Name:

Michelle Leech
You are from: Manchester, UK
Comments: I just wanted to say thanks for the information provided on places to visit otters. I have a keen interest in seeing them, however there are not many sanctuaries in the north of England, and I thought I had been to them all. However after visiting your website I now can go and visit Cumbria to see the otters there. I would not have known about this place without your website.
Sign Time: 31 Jul 2006 13:33:10

Visitor's Name:

You are from: Australia
You like otters because: Been fascinated and in love with them since a child.

I enjoy learning more and seeing others comments who enjoy
them as well. Loved reading the journals and stories of these fascinating creatures

Sign Time: 27 Jul 2006 09:24:32

Visitor's Name:

You are from: Oregon
You like otters because: I dont think i can fit it all here! they are cute, playful, intelligent, and have the greatest personalities!!!
Comments: It's a GREAT site! I'm still waiting for a reply to some questions. OTTERS ROCK!! I LOVE OTTERS!! I love otters more than anyone! I'm OTTER CRAZY!!! peace out, to my fellow otter lovers!
Sign Time: 24 Jun 2006 19:54:41
Otter Joy replies: I emailed you back today, Briana (4th July)

Visitor's Name:

Austin Cross
You are from: USA
Comments: HI, my name is Austin. My nickname is "Otter." And I swim like one, too. I am doing a rainforest report on the Giant Otter. Thanks for the great site. I'm 9 years old and in the 3rd Grade and I am a Giant Otter expert.
Sign Time: Sat, 27 May 2006

Visitor's Name:

Rose Linck
Comments: On November 17th, 2003 I wrote about Elfin, Nyak and Milo at the Vancouver Aquarium in B.C. Canada. My husband and I recently made a trip back up there because we heard they had a new little girl named "Tanu". I've been hoping for a friend for Elfin, who has been swimming and playing alone for five years! After "training" with Nyak, an older female, Tanu was moved in with Elfin about one week before our arrival! He is so used to being alone, he doesn't know what to do with her! Tanu is 1 year, 10 months old now. I wasn't able to make it up there while she was a baby, although I do have an adorable baby picture of her to share, as well a cute photo of her saying hello to my husband at the glass. We fed Milo again this time, and had a ball being with all "my" otters. They are all angels to me! I will attach other photos as well!
Sign Time: Thu, 25 Apr 2006
Otter Joy replies: Thanks, Rose, the pictures are gorgeous. And so are the otters.

Visitor's Name:

Vania Carolina Fonseca
You are from: Brazil
You like otters because: I love mustelid in generals, but specially otters since I read the book Ring of Bright Water
Comments: Hi, I loved this website! Very interesting, you make a good general view of the species and clarified me some doubts I had. I'm a biology student begining my work with neotropical otters. Now I'm studying the diet and my plans for the future are to make a radio telemetry survey of the animals. I found some interesting things on your references, but here there is some difficulty to access publications.. Some of them I have, but there are others that I've never read and there is no way to obtain them. So I wonder if you have any of them in .pdf format that you could send to my email? I would be very, very grateful! If that's possible, please email me, ok? Congratulations for your work! Cordially, Vania
Sign Time: Sat, 29 Apr 2006
Otter Joy replies: Thanks, Vania. I will email you about the references.

Visitor's Name:

Carrie Gaertner
You are from: Brenham, TX
Comments: My 8 year old had to do a report on an endangered species and he chose the marine otter because he loved watching otters at the Houston Zoo. This was by far the most comprehensive and interesting sight with information about marine otters. Thank you very much!
Sign Time: Mon, 17 Apr 2006

Visitor's Name:

Jenny Ashton
You are from: Chorley, Lancs, England
You like otters because: Ever since watching them on Mull years ago I have never seen anything as wonderful they are truly amazing creatures
Comments: What a brilliant site!  I found out all I wanted to know for a young friend on giant otters.  Many thanks
Sign Time: Sun, 8 Jan 2006 18:19:17

Visitor's Name:
Comments: hi ilove otters
Sign Time: Wed, 14 Dec 2005 21:33:02 EST

Visitor's Name:

Jim Falcione
You are from: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
You like Otters because: Otters always held a special place in my heart after watching the movie "Ring of Bright Water" and reading Gavin Maxwell's compelling novels as a child.

Great Site! I currently belong to the River Otter Alliance and the International Otter Survival Fund. Both are dedicated to the welfare and survival of these amazing creatures. Check them out on the Web.

And remember the touching words Gavin Maxwell enscribed on the memorial to Edal, Gavin's pet otter, who tragically perished in a fire: "Whatever Joy She Gave To You, Give Back To Nature"

Sign Time: Sunday, 11 December 2005 11:33
Otter Joy Replies: Hi Jim, Thanks for writing. Both the organisations you mention are excellent, and I have links to them from my links page. Check out some of the others too!

Visitor's Name:

Peter Talbot
Web Site Tarka and Me
You are from: Norfolk UK
You like Otters because: Because they have fascinatingly beautiful webbed feet and they don't take orders!

‘Otterjoy’ is a fantastic site offering much good reading and advice. Most people (especially some fishermen) believe that river otters exist by swimming around preying on large fish. I am not one of these. Otters have a very fast digestive system which means that when you keep one, they need to eat little and often. To me this means that in the wild they constantly graze small fry along the shallows rather than gorge on big powerful game fish.

Another pointer is that otters do not swim terribly fast (in fish terms) and they can’t hold their breath for all that long. Don’t get me wrong, they love a good feast just like the rest of us, but in the wild, big feasts are few and far between. Large fish are simply too fast and too powerful.

There are many differing ideas about feeding otters in captivity. I lived with a tame Eurasian otter for two years whilst looking after several others that were semi-tame. I tried various diets; mince, soaked biscuit the occasional raw egg and sea fish, (usually herring or whiting). Eels were a favourite of course. (Fish ‘n chicks is an old joke!)

Now here’s the thing, I found that the otters in my care could not thrive on sea fish alone and were not all that fussed about it - even though herring is supposed to be a well balanced diet. Freshwater fish however, was a different story.

In the end I discovered a trout hatchery that had lost thousands of small fish due to the water becoming deoxygenated in hot weather. This farm had tons of them in the deep freeze. They were no good for humans because they were no bigger than five inches long but boy did I have a use for them! I found that the otters would eat them to the exclusion of almost everything and they thrived and thrived!

At this point I should add that even when put in a pool populated with live trout the otters couldn’t catch them outright!

This was all quite a few years ago when sea fish was relatively cheap compared with freshwater fish. I wonder if that is still the case? This phenomenon has always puzzled me. Can you help?

Sign Time: Thursday, 10 November 2005 21:36
Otter Joy Replies:

Hi Pete!  I'm looking forward to reading more about Spade on your website. 

There are a lot of different schools of thought about giving sea fish to otters.  As a major constituent of the diet, there are worries that it causes vitamin deficiencies and may lead to the perenial bugbear of captive otters - kidney stones.  At one point, people were advised against feeding sea fish at all, but the AZA now includes fish like capelin in their fish diet for Lontra canadensis, which is a very carefully formulated diet being trialled at present to see if it wards off the dreaded urolithiasis.   Even that diet includes non-fish items, so I don't think that sea fish is considered well-balanced any more.

I'm going to review the literature about diet of wild Lutra lutra tonight, and see what Kruuk, Conroy and so on found, and then I'll update this. I remember that in Scotland, the preferred sea fish were small, slow benthic (i.e. bottom-dwelling) fish, and that otters, like most predators, will usually take the easy meal rather than, as you say, spend energy chasing something harder to catch.  Wild otters of all species are not single-species predators - apart from maybe Sea Otters, their diet includes fish, small mammals, crustacea, molluscs, birds, amphibians, reptiles and anything else they can easily lay paw on. If anyone reading has information about this, please write in!

Captive otters I have observed appear to be pretty fussy!  Some like sea fish, others won't touch it.  Otters (Lutra lutra, Lontra canadensis or Aonyx cinereus) that have been brought up with a varied diet are much more willing to try new things, and people that feed fish, meat, crayfish, mealworms, chicks and so on - 'whatever is fresh and good today' - in several small, varied meals per day find they will eat sea fish happily as part of a wide diet. Otters kept with a more restricted variety of diet are probably more vulnerable to constituent deficiencies, but also less willing to try something new (personal observation).  Out of the zoos I have visited during the KASBAH project, the most commonly fed fish so far is trout, for all species of otters (of course, even though I am observing short-claws, I can't help but also find out about the others!). 

Again, some tame otters seem to have no problems catching live prey, although the UK ban on feeding live vertebrates makes this hard to evaluate.  On the "Zoo" programme from Auckland Zoo, three short-claws made easy work of a live eel, which wouldn't even normally form part of their wild prey and was much longer than they were!  Certainly if live crayfish are put into the pool, the zoo otters I know will chase and catch them, and there are numerous reports of zoo otters taking water birds foolish enough to hang around in their enclosures.  Whether this is solely inate behaviour or whether mother zoo otters teach their cubs that this is a normal part of life, is a good question.  Hand-reared otters do seem less inclined to go to any effort chasing live prey, though Bertie, Belinda and the late Beenie, hand-reared small-claws, will all hunt and kill small fish in the river when out for a walk - but they won't actually eat them, because they prefer mince!

I'll get back to you on this - you've raised some interesting questions.

Did you feed any vegetables or fruit?

And I love otters because they look cute, can be fierce or loving as the mood takes them and as you say, don't take orders.  Joe Davis wrote to me the dogs have masters, cats have staff and otters have partners - junior partners, that is. . .

Visitor's Name:

Kathlene Wingert
You are from: Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania USA
You like Otters because: I love otters because,they are so much fun to watch, very playful, like small chidren, I just love them, river and sea.
Comments: I am looking for someone who also loves otters and would like to e-mail back and forth about them. I would like to have one for a pet, where do I check to go about finding info on getting one? Any suggestions would be helpful. Thankyou.
Sign Time: Thursday, 29 Sep 2005 17:34
Otter Joy Replies: I'm always happy to talk about otters, Kathlene, but as for pet otters - have you read my reply to James, who also asked about pet otters?

Visitor's Name:

Aurora Mitchell
You are from: London
You like Otters because: Because they are very playful and I have shown a great interest into helping them to enjoy life in the wild while they can!
Comments: I love otters and when I saw the giant otters in a cage, I was quite surprised! They made a very loud noise! They looked well but I think Giant otters are animals that are meant to be kept in the wild otherwise they might disappear fast if zoo keep on capturing them and putting them in cages. When I went to the Isle of Skye to see some otters I was disappointed to see that there were none! We waited for a long time and nothing came at all!! Since I knew I was coming to Brazil and there were giant otters there, I knew my goal was to see them! They looked just like otters but not so furry and had different markings on their necks!
Sign Time: Tuesday 16 August 2005
Otter Joy Replies: Keeping Giant Otters in captivity well is hard to do.  Although in an ideal world, they could live safely in the wild, this is not an ideal world.   In reality, in the wild, Giant Otters are being driven to extinction by pollution of the water they live in, disturbance by people, illegal hunting and destruction of their habitat.  Giant Otters are legally protected in all the countries where they live, but these are huge areas and the law cannot be enforced.  The stark choice is to leave them in the wild and let them become extinct because we don't like seeing them in zoos, or to take a small number into captivity (and this is very seldom done) and use them to build a captive, safe population as insurance - a kind of ark - so that if they go extinct in the wild, but some time in the future their habitat becomes safe for them, they can be reintroduced. Which is more important - that the species should survive or that we should stand by and let them go extinct just so we can feel good about ourselves?  The wild is not an animal paradise - it is dangerous and getting worse, mainly because of humans. There is more about the threats faced by Giant Otters on my Giant Otters Threats page. The IUCN Otter Specialist Group works with zoos that keep Giant Otters to try to explain what conditions are best to keep them, but they can force the zoo to obey. I do not know which zoo you visited, so I do not know whether they were keeping the otters in the way advised. Perhaps if zoo visitors asked zoos to make sure they kept their animals in the best way possible, then this would persuade zoos to do so.

Visitor's Name:

Amy Graydon
You are from: Kippen
You like Otters because: Because there is so much to learn about them
Comments: How do otters breed and how do they hunt?
Sign Time: Sunday 29th May 2005
Otter Joy Replies:

Most otters do not live in families. The male and female only meet to mate, and thereafter the female otter has to bring up the cubs by herself.  The exceptions are the Asian Small-Clawed Otter and the Giant Otter live in big families led by the mother and father together.

Most otters hunt by chasing fish through the water using their whiskers to feel the water currents.  They catch the fish in their jaws and carry it to the surface to eat.  To help them swim fast, they have webbed feet and they have claws to help hold onto the slippery fish.  The Asian Small-Clawed Otter and the African Clawless Otters don't hunt like this - they have very little webbing on their paws, and hardly any claws at all, but their fingers are very sensitive, and they feel in crevices in rocks, and through mud for the shellfish and crabs that they eat.  The Sea Otter lives on big shellfish and urchins, and to catch them, it dives down to the bottom of the kelp beds and picks them up, tucking them into its armpit.  Also under its arm, it carries a favourite flat stone.  When it gets back to the surface, it rolls on its back, takes out the flat stone and balances it on its tummy, and bashes the shells against it to open them so it can eat the juicy meat inside.

Visitor's Name:

You are from: Brinnon
You like Otters because: I love otters because they are soooo cute
Comments: I have a few questions how do asian short-clawed otters protect themself? what are its enemies? what kind of adaptation does it make to live in its enviroments?
Sign Time: Thursday, 16 March 2005 14:25
Otter Joy Replies: Asian Small-Clawed Otters have very dangerous bites. Their jaw muscles are very large and strong, because their food has tough shells which they have to crack.
Because they live in big family groups, not many predators can creep up on them. Sometimes an otter might be eaten by a sneaky crocodile or snake, but the main enemy of otters is people (and their dogs).
As well as the usual otter adaptations to water (nose and ears closing with a valve when underwater, thick, dense fur trapping air to insulate the body, muscles allowing the curvature of the eye to change so they see as well under water as on land, and many other adaptations), the Asian Small-clawed otter has very sensitive paws which it uses to feel for food animals in crevices in rocks, in mud and so on. It also has very wide, flat back teeth to crush shells with. There is lots more about this in the species description pages.

Visitor's Name:

Jackie Petty
You are from: Wyoming IL
You like Otters because: Because they are so adorable and im studying them for my freshmen World Geography class. I chose to do a report on them
Comments: this site is awesome because it has almost everything that you would need to klnow about otters
Sign Time: Friday, 25 February 2005

Visitor's Name:

Dominique Arnold
You are from: Mesa, Arizona
You like Otters because: I think they are so cute
Comments: I like this site butit needs some pictures of them
Sign Time: Thursday, 7 October 2004 17:11

Visitor's Name:

Home Page URL:
You are from: Australia
You like Otters because: They are a beautiful creature, playful and fun to watch.
Comments: I had to come back for another look, great site.
Sign Time: Friday, 30 July 2004

Visitor's Name:

Home Page URL:
You are from: Sweden
You like Otters because: I find them very interesting. They seem so full of joy!
Comments: Hi Lesley! It was great to see you again. Hows Your Otter? Mine is travelling around, last I heard from her she was in Amsterdam!! She sends me photoes of her in different places. I think she is upset that I forgot her in Frostburg... I´ll send some of the photoes. love Anna PS GREAT website!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sign Time: Wed, 16 Jun 2004 04:09:48
Otter Joy Replies: Hi Anna, it was great to see you too. I hear your otter is having a great time. Mine is jealous now!

Visitor's Name:

Rose Linck
Comments: I was lucky enough to spend three months watching these little sweethearts!
I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with Elfin, Milo and Nyac at the Vancouver Aquarium in Vancouver, BC. My husband was there working on a movie, so I was at the Aquarium every chance I could get during the three months I was there. Milo is from Portugal and is a four year old boy, Nyac is a 14 year old girl who was a victim of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. She still has some kidney and liver damage but does really well. Milo is now hounding her, (if you know what I mean), so they are going to see if there are any results of that! Elfin (my favorite) is a two year old boy. He is from Alaska. Some fishermen watched as his mommy dived down for some food, leaving him wrapped in the kelp. They watched for several hours, and she never came back. (My heart is breaking now) The fishermen intervened and Elfin ended up at the Vancouver Aquarium. He was two days old and two pounds when he was saved. (I have a digital picture if you want it) He is a great little boy and LOVES to play with his toys. He even falls asleep while playing with them.
Currently, my husband is doing a movie that took him to Long Beach, CA. I was lucky enough to tag along and go to the Aqaurium of the Pacific where they have three otters from Monterey: Charlie, Brook and Summer. Charlie was an orphan due to El Nino, as was Brook, Summer was orphaned during La Nina. She has a bit of a hypothermia problem, so they keep the water in their pool five degrees warmer than normal. They are dolls too and I will be revisiting them this Wednesday.
As you can see, I adore otters!
I forgot to mention that while in Vancouver, we took an overnight trip to Sooke on Vancouver Island. We stayed at the Sooke Harbour House where a family of river otters made their home beneath the rocks at the bottom of the inn. They decided we were safe enough to come out and we were thrilled to watch them run into the water, catch fish and come back onto shore. They did this all day for us. What an exciting day!
You know, if you get "Animal Planet" where you are, there is a show called "Animal Adoptions" that has a special on Callie (Calypso). It chronicles the adoption of Callie, an otter in Alaska who is adopted by the Aquarium in Seattle. It's terrific!
Sign Time: Mon, 17 Nov 2003 22:00:13 EST
Otter Joy Replies: Rose, I'd love to see the photo of Elfin!

Visitor's Name:

Simon van der Linden
Home Page URL:
You are from: Holland, Utrecht
You like Otters because: I know for sure that I was an otter in an other life, or something else i dont know, I really love them.
Comments: hello Simon here, after jan. 2004 i'm free from work for several months, i realy want to work with otter these months. i don't need money for it,.. just want to help them and the people who work for these otters. but a roof above my head will be good. Please if you know where I can work in a reserve(reservation) for otters, let me know please. It doesent matter where it is, because i like a good hollyday to.
by the way, i'm 21 just cleared my study (social study)
I'm from holland and LOVE OTTERS.
Greetings and a smile,
Sign Time: Mon, 17 Nov 2003 13:45:03 GMT
Otter Joy Replies: Thanks for writing in my guestbook, Simon
There aren't many places in England where you can volunteer to help otters. The local wildlife trusts build artifical otter holts to encourage them into an area, but that doesn't sound like what you are looking for.
The IOSF offer holidays in Scotland helping otters (but you have to pay).
In Holland, you could try asking Aqualutra if they could use volunteers
You could also try the Hanover OtterZentrum in Germany
Otherwise, if you want to try further afield, many of the American Zoos have volunteer programs (which english zoos do not).
There is also EcoVolunteer, which runs several projects in South America to help otters

Visitor's Name:

Sign Time: Sat, 25 Oct 2003 01:49:06 -0700

Visitor's Name:
Comments: otters are as fine as a fine pave choon. IF NOT FINER.
Sign Time: Sun, 10 Aug 2003 19:03:31 EDT

Visitor's Name:

You are from: Michigan
Comments: Wonderful site. Am using a alternative reaserch source. thank you very much
Sign Time: August 04 2003 at 09:48:47

Visitor's Name:

Robert Abbott
You are from: CANADA
Sign Time: Thu, 31 Jul 2003 at 15:39:16 BST 12:39 local time

Visitor's Name:

You are from: pembrokeshire wales
Comments: we keep short clawed otter where i work. very interesting facts about them very good web site.
Sign Time: July 15 2003 at 11:21:59

Visitor's Name:

Home Page URL:
You are from: Harrogate (UK)
You like Otters because: I like otters because they are very funny ad I like them when they stand up on their hind legs as I think it is cute what they do.
Comments: I went to a otter reserve last tuesday on a trip. I thought it was wonderful. there were baby otters as well at Pennines reserve down in Durham near Bruff
Sign Time: 11 Jul 2003

Visitor's Name:

Guilherme Guerra
You are from: Brazil State of Sao Paulo
You like Otters because: Because i am vet and always worked and studied south american carnivores and i love mustelids!!!
Comments: This site is wonderfull!!! Congratulations for the pics and texts!
Thank you ever so much!
Sign Time: May 23 2003 at 01:58:02

Visitor's Name:

Home Page URL:  
Comments: This is an excellent site.
Sign Time: May 23 2003 at 01:58:02

Visitor's Name:

You are from: san antonio, texas
Comments: just looking around and thought this was a really good site. i think otters are really cool and unique.
Sign Time: May 22 2003 at 17:40:45

Visitor's Name:

Doris Bornate
Home Page URL:  
You are from: us
Comments: Just Scooten Around And Dropped In.
Sign Time: May 07 2003 at 03:05:34

Visitor's Name:

You are from: Sawgrass Springs Middle
Comments: In school, I have a project on the Marine Otter and this is THE BEST website I found. Thanks for making it!
Sign Time: April 10 2003 at 12:43:50
Otter Joy Replies: Glad to be of help!

Visitor's Name:

Home Page URL:
Comments: great site
Sign Time: March 26 2003 at 13:00:33
Otter Joy Replies: Thanks!  I followed your link - that's a beautiful picture of a North American River Otter.

Visitor's Name:

Home Page URL: Live Vitalizations:(
Comments: Just fantastic, Impressive site,
Sign Time: March 13 2003 at 23:40:41

Visitor's Name:

Otter Man
You like Otters because: I like otters, otters are nice, i like the way otters swim. P.S. Morning Sheridon
Sign Time: February 27 2003 at 06:42:13

Visitor's Name:

Pineapple Princess
You are from: d.c
You like Otters because: i love otters they r so cute!
Sign Time: February 27 2003 at 06:42:13

Visitor's Name: Viggo Yip
You are from: HK
Comments: Hi Lesley Wright, i want to know that is that there are totally 13 otters recorded? it is because i had read some books saying that there are totally 19 accepted species, so is this meant that some of them are going extinct or may be some of them are not so well accept due to little scientific evidences to support? thank you very much!
Sign Time: February 04 2003 at 00:01:50
Otterhappy replies: At one point people thought there were 23 species! The reason is that there is a lot of regional variation in the American River Otter, and a huge number of subspecies are recognised - the question is which of these are full species and which are subspecies. Since the DNA work done on otters by Koepfli and Wayne, as shown on my reference page, it is now clear that the number of species of American River Otter is much fewer than thought - the relegation of a number of species to sub-species level is what has caused difference in number. There is even some evidence that ALL the species of American River Otter are really just one speces with strong regional subspeciation. The 13 that I give are the ones currently supported by the DNA evidence. Koepfli and Wayne's paper is really very good - ask your library to get you a copy, and you will see all the detailed arguments which I don't go into on the web site.
Lesley Wright Otterhappy
Time added: February 5 2003 at 07:31:52

Visitor's Name:

Peter J Poole
Home Page URL:
You are from: Falkirk Scotland
Comments: Ferrets are fun, weasels are wicked, but only otters rock!
Sign Time: January 29 2003 at 08:50:58

Visitor's Name:

james tarpey
You are from: new jersey
You like Otters because: cute i guess
Comments: im looking to raise a baby otter.if anyone can give me some help as to where to find a breeder id appreciate it..thnaks..james t
Sign Time: December 29 2002 at 22:17:48
Otter Joy replies: James, do you know what you would be taking on to raise a baby otter? It is a very time-consuming and demanding process, and you have to set up your whole home and lifestyle around it. Otters do not make good pets! If you seriously want to become an otter keeper, I suggest you read some accounts of otter owning, such as Dorothy Wisbeski's "An Otter in the House", and Joseph A. Davis "Beever and Company", as well as Gavin Maxwell's "Ring of Bright Water". They will show you the joys and heartaches of otter keeping, and how much hard work it is. In addition, you will have to look into local laws about otter keeping - in some states (and some countries), they are covered by all kinds of licensing and laws. If after all that your whole family wants to keep an otter, you should decide what kind of otter (ie the North American River Otter, or one of the ones that are not natives to the USA). Remember, to keep an otter as a pet, you will need one between 4 and 6 weeks old, and you will have to be prepared to give it almost constant attention for at least 10 years, maybe, if you are good at keeping them, up to 20 years. The cost of veterinary attention, which the animal will need, will be high because it has to be anaesthetized for all inspections. Otters eat expensive food - and it all should be fit for human consumption because they are very prone to enteritis. They eat a third of their bodyweight every day, and the diet has to be carefully balanced to avoid them developing either dental problems (food too soft) or kidney stones. They get bored very easily so you will have to have constant new ideas for play. I estimate that in England, it costs around 5000UKP per year to keep an otter, not including the cost of the pen, licenses, inspections, and initial purchase. Maybe you've already been into this, and are REALLY SERIOUS and can afford the time and money, please email me using the Email button on my website, and I may be able to give you some pointers. 
Lesley Wright Otterhappy
Time added: December 30 2002 at 08:32:49

Visitor's Name:

You are from: Australia
You like Otters because: Always have been fascinated since I was a kid
Comments: Great site, will check back from time to time
Sign Time: July 21 2002 at 02:28:16

Visitor's Name:

Home Page URL: Exotic Animal Insurance
You are from: Sussex, UK
You like Otters because: Professional Interest
Comments: A lovely and informative site for all!
Sign Time: April 30 2002 at 03:49:46

Visitor's Name:

You are from: Calera Alabama
Comments: I like your site.
Sign Time: April 24 2002 at 01:53:16

Visitor's Name:

You are from: Pa
You like Otters because: They are cute
Comments: Thanx soooo much for this site, I used it for info on a HUGE school project. Thanx Much!
Sign Time: April 23 2002 at 20:12:34

Visitor's Name:

Malcolm Foster ( Norman )
You are from: New Forest Owl Sanctuary ( Volunteer)
You like Otters because: Im handrearing one (Henry)
Sign Time: April 02 2002 at 08:17:09

Visitor's Name:

Kath Dempster
You are from: Chestnut Centre
You like Otters because: There's nothing else like them. They're great!
Comments: Loved your site. Something for everyone. As Education Officer at Chestnut Centre I found much useful information. Look forward to meeting you again soon.
Sign Time: December 23 2001 at 18:43:01

Visitor's Name:

You are from: Chesterfield
You like Otters because: I can't explain why. Their faces probably!
Comments: I'd never seen an Otter face to face until I went to the Chestnut centre earlier this month and was suprised at how friendly they were as I expected them to run a mile when they saw us but they did the opposite and came up to the fence (looking for what we might have in terms of food probably!) We didn't see the Giant Otters but Canuck, Nova and Scotia made up for that! Oh and Holly was our favourite. We are going to sponsor one of the animals next time we go up. Great site! Take care.
Sign Time: September 17 2001 at 16:36:33

Visitor's Name:

You are from: Australia
Do you like Otters? Of course, alas Australia has none.
Comments: very sweet site. Cheers

Visitor's Name:

You are from: Australia
Do you like Otters? Like them? I am one!
Comments: Hi there! I love your website! I especially liked the history page. You've put a lot of work into this and I've bookmarked it as a favorite otter site! One fun thing I've done is look up companies with "otter" in their name and see their logos. There's

Visitor's Name:

You are from: The Library!
Do you like Otters? Yes
Comments: Hello Lesley - I love the webpages, but can't hear the music which is a shame (only because I'm in the library and the sound is turned off on my PC!)