The Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) is the most widely distributed of the world’s 13 otter species. This charismatic mammal is found throughout much of Europe, northern Asia and north Africa. Across the majority of its range it is a freshwater species, inhabiting lakes and river systems. In Scotland it has adapted to coastal habitats.
Any animal that lives fully or partly in water faces challenges. Physiologically, the biggest of these is regulation of body temperature. Water is very effective at conducting heat away from a warm body – the thermal conductivity of water is 23 times greater than that of air. Otters have both physical and behavioural adaptations that overcome this challenge.
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