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Asian short-clawed otterAsian short-clawed otter Otters are semi-aquatic, fish-eating mammals. Members of the weasel family, most species of otter live near rivers or ponds, while the sea otter lives in the coastal waters of the Pacific Ocean. Designed for speed in the water, the otter has a long, muscular body, water-repellent fur, webbed paws and a thick, flattened tail. It moves through the water by flexing its body and tail up and down, while paddling and steering with its hind feet. It feeds on other water creatures, including fish, shellfish, amphibians, birds and small mammals. Its stiff whiskers are sensitive to slight movements in the water, helping it to locate its prey.

European otter

European otterEuropean otterTo avoid its fur becoming waterlogged, the European otter enters the river only to hunt or travel. The rest of the time it lives on the river's edge. Some live along the coast and swim in the sea. Hunting at night, it feeds mainly on fish, but will also catch birds, insects, frogs and crustaceans. Fiercely territorial, the otter lays claim to a stretch of river averaging 20 kilometres (12 miles) long, marking its boundaries with faeces, called spraints, urine and a strong-smelling musk from its scent glands.

If floating while asleep, a group or pair of sea otters will hold hands to stop themselves drifting apart. A group of sea otters resting together is called a raft.

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