The Eurasian or European Otter is a semi-aquatic carnivorous mammal, which is easily recognized, however, only rarely observed. Head-torso length may reach up to 95 cm (not including tail) and male specimens may weigh as much as 17 kg. The fur is of brownish and at the throat often of a lighter creamy color. The otter is a solitary territorial species and uses feces as well as mucus secretion for interspecies communication. Those marking sites are frequently located at landmarks, such as bridges, estuaries, stones or other prominent landscape features.
Depending on availability, the diet is diverse and can be composed of fish, small mammals, birds, amphibians, crustaceans and insects.
Habitat and distribution
Eurasian Otter is widely distributed in Albania. It can be found in a variety of aquatic habitats, such as lakes, rivers, marshes, swamps as well as coastal areas. They are strongly depending on bank side vegetation and availability of denning sites such as holes in the river banks or cavities under trees, rocks etc. The species is surprisingly tolerant towards anthropogenic pressure and may be found even in highly polluted environments.
Lutra lutra is classified as Near Threatened according to the IUCN Red List. Moreover, this species is listed in appendices II and IV of the Habitats and Birds Directive. The aquatic habitats of otters are extremely vulnerable to man-made changes. Canalization of rivers, removal of bank side vegetation, dam construction, draining of wetlands, aquaculture activities and associated man-made impacts on aquatic systems are all unfavorable to otter populations.
During last years, Lutra lutra has been and is in focus of PPNEA. PPNEA, in collaboration with relevant institutions in Albania, is working on field ecological research for otter status in Albania.