nightfly's picture


Observed: 6th August 2012 By: nightflynightfly’s reputation in Mammalsnightfly’s reputation in Mammalsnightfly’s reputation in Mammals
6 august 12 (1)
6 august 12 (17)
6 august 12 (34)
6 august 12 (35)
6 august 12 (22)
6 august 12 (39)
6 august 12 (15)
    Likely ID
    European Otter (Lutra lutra)
    Confidence: I'm as sure as I can be.
    ID agreements (): 18 People
    • chrisbrooks
      Sea Fish AtlasSeaKeys
      chrisbrooks’s reputation in Mammalschrisbrooks’s reputation in Mammalschrisbrooks’s reputation in Mammalschrisbrooks’s reputation in Mammals
    • martinjohnbishopmartinjohnbishop’s reputation in Mammalsmartinjohnbishop’s reputation in Mammals
    • steve_tsteve_t’s reputation in Mammalssteve_t’s reputation in Mammalssteve_t’s reputation in Mammals
    • clairethomas
      Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
      clairethomas is knowledgeable about Mammals
    • FenwickfieldFenwickfield’s reputation in MammalsFenwickfield’s reputation in MammalsFenwickfield’s reputation in Mammals
    • the naturalist man
      The Mammal SocietyYorkshire Naturalists' Union
      Mammals expert
    • Gill Sinclair
      S159 Neighbourhood Nature - course completeThe Mammal SocietyThe Vincent Wildlife Trust
      Mammals expert
    • david1973
      Yorkshire Naturalists' Union
      david1973’s reputation in Mammalsdavid1973’s reputation in Mammalsdavid1973’s reputation in Mammals
    • shrike07shrike07’s reputation in Mammalsshrike07’s reputation in Mammals
    • The Reremouse
      Black Country and Staffordshire NaturalistsBrumBats - Birmingham and Black Country Bat GroupInvertebrate Challenge
      The Reremouse’s reputation in MammalsThe Reremouse’s reputation in Mammals
    • itsmealitsmeal’s reputation in Mammalsitsmeal’s reputation in Mammals
    • noelbatsnoelbats’s reputation in Mammals
    • Eskling2Eskling2’s reputation in MammalsEskling2’s reputation in Mammals
    • j.tweedie
      S159 Neighbourhood Nature - course complete
      j.tweedie’s reputation in Mammalsj.tweedie’s reputation in Mammals
    • rstewartbrstewartb’s reputation in Mammalsrstewartb’s reputation in Mammalsrstewartb’s reputation in Mammalsrstewartb’s reputation in Mammals
    • Donald HobernDonald Hobern’s reputation in MammalsDonald Hobern’s reputation in Mammals
    • dejayM
      Biological Recording In ScotlandHighland Biological Recording GroupOrkney Biodiversity Records Centre
      dejayM’s reputation in MammalsdejayM’s reputation in Mammals
    • EsklingEskling’s reputation in MammalsEskling’s reputation in Mammals
Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which European Otter (Lutra lutra) interacts


nightfly's picture

Im having some uploading

Im having some uploading trouble, various other anatomical images to be added but its not working just now.


the naturalist man's picture


What a shame. Otters are territorial so it will be either the same animal or its mate/parent; hard to say if the animal you spotted on the road was an adult or large young.

Chances are it was the same animal as it appeared to have no fear of cars, not everyone stops for animals crossing.

In Australia you would fail your driving test if you stopped, swerved or even slowed to aviod hitting an animal, except kangeroos as they would cause so much damage to your car if you hit one! Presumaly lorry drivers are supposed to hit kangeroos as well.

Graham Banwell

Visit the iSpot Yorkshire forum for information on events, issues and news relating to 'God's own country'

Gill Sinclair's picture

Avoiding animals

I agree it's a great shame to see this, especially as it looks like such a healthy individual.

I would fail my test for sure - I instinctively break even for small things like mice and voles, and even RATS! :-)

Gill Sinclair
OU Certificate in Contemporary Science
Twitter @Gill_Sinclair

Fenwickfield's picture

Me too

I would also fail as I swerve for everything except people :)


nightfly's picture

Hi Graham, From the view I

Hi Graham,

From the view I got of the otter on the 9th of July they were very similar in size. That was a chunky adult I saw back then, a pretty solid animal and I think there is a very good chance its the same chap. The one I saw was somewhat naive looking as it bounded towards my car headlights and only when I started moving slowly towards it did it stop and take a good look. It then turned around and casually went back the way it came and dropped into the stream.

As may friend Peter asked, what need did it have to be up on the coast road at all as there is a tunnel under the road through which the stream flows?

I havent freezer room for this animal, it isnt going to be stuffed and I was wondering how difficult it would be to have its skeleton set up preserved if I was able to save all the bones?


the naturalist man's picture

Cleaning skeletons

If you put 'cleaning skeleton' into Google you will find all the information you need, I suggest you read more than one as they all tend to give different answers. I prefer burying this gives a clean skeleton with a nice slightly brown tone. However, you need to be very patient, your otter would take around a year and if you are not careful the small bits can be lost.

Quicker methods involve chemicals and/or some very nasty smells - not popular with neighbours!

Caution - if you go for the boiling method it does distort thin bones and don't do it in your mother's best pan as I did when I was a kid - you will not be popular!

One of my favorite web sites is:

Partly because I am so jealous that such a young boy has an amazing skull collection.

He uses hydrogen peroxide which is OK but you do need to remove the fleshy bits first.

Is it easy? The honest answer is 'no' it is messy, kind of disgusting and smelly; but it is also fascinating (especially if you do a necropsy (animal autopsy) on the body as you clean it) and satisfying to have a full otter skeleton.

Now the law - This is a little fuzzy, it is OK to own the remains of an otter if you can prove it died by legal means, e.g. road casualty. However, if you were to attempt to sell it you would be breaking the law without relevant permits.

The wording in NI is the same as in GB 'The possession of a specially protected animal or its skin or anything else derived from it is an offense unless the owner can prove that it came into his or her possession by lawful means'. Generally this means you are OK if you keep a good record of where and when you found it, how you think it died, approximate age and sex of the animal. Keep this with your skeleton at all times. If you have any doubts then contact the Environment and Heritage Service, they are responsible for wildlife law and licenses in NI.

Good luck!

Incidentally, excellent photo set, thanks.

If you do clean up the skeleton please put photos of it on iSpot.

Graham Banwell

Visit the iSpot Yorkshire forum for information on events, issues and news relating to 'God's own country'

nightfly's picture

Graham, Thanks for all this


Thanks for all this info and taking the time to post it. I think I will bury it, decomposition is well underway in a field far enough away from the house to avoid the smell.

Its not losing the small feet bones thst will be the problem and then reassembling them.

Much appreciated.


dejayM's picture

needle heaps

Yes, what a nice gentle Nature post - despite the loss of lutra. Lovely informative comment trail.
I'd've used wood ants for this sort of stripping - once did a fox head and other much smallies in pierced tins. Those great needle heaps in conifers are the best. Living here I cannot do that! You must be patient and do not dig it out in the winter. No animal in its right mind will approach the carcass during the process (cep't perhaps a mad badger).
Go >>here<< and DO watch the video!
Nice eh? - thanks Cathal. On wi' the fish skull project (FSP) now..