Otters in the Broads
Otters have the ability to make us go quite gooey, their little faces and cheeky nature fascinate us and their funny antics keep us laughing and crying, remember reading about the life and death of Tarka the Otter?
However, for many years this lovely creature was missing from the Broads and Rivers of Norfolk. This was due to loss of habitat, poisoning from pesticides, hunting, pollution and lack of food with the decline of fish and fresh water muscles.
By the mid 1970’s otters were in crisis and in danger of extinction throughout most of lowland Britain. Happily, due to the efforts of the Otter Trust and the then Conservation bodies, otters were released back into the wild and this together with a natural spread from recovering colonies in the west of England boosted numbers of the otters re-colonising in Norfolk.
Today the otter is thriving, with rigorous legal and environment protection, reduction in insecticides and pollution of the rivers, they can be found throughout the Broads.
However spotting one can be tricky as they prefer quiet backwaters. Although their broad heads and tail are easily identified, they are silent and slick swimmers, so only a trail of bubbles can be seen by the observant. Mostly nocturnal, they do make an appearance at dawn and dusk and their distinctive squeaks can be heard echoing around the reeds.
Otters are very opportunistic and feed on all sorts of stuff whilst patrolling their territory.
It is mainly fish and fresh water muscles but depending on the time of year, larvae, amphibians, small mammals and birds such as coots, moorhens, signets, duckling and goslings feature in their diet.
If you are on the water, the best places to see them paddling about, is on Barton and Ranworth Broad. If you don’t spot them then just take one of the many walks around these Broads and watch out for telltale signs of them, namely their droppings which are called spraints and their footprints and listen out for the squeaks and the occasional splash – you never know you might just be lucky and see one!
For more information on wild otters click on these links: