Otters are about the size of a small dog. Their coat is mainly brown, with a lighter brown bib. They have small ears and eyes on a flattish head. Otter run with a lolloping gait on land, and hold their long thick tapering tail off the ground. They swim very flat on the water surface and when they dive their long tail flips over and can be seen clearly. Otters have a high-pitched squeak when calling to other otters and a whickering, loud angry chatter when threatening.
The otter's main habitat is along the seashore and the banks of rivers, lakes and streams. They are territorial and their territories cover 1 - 3km along the seashore and 5 - 20km along freshwater rivers and lakes.
Males (dogs) and females (bitches) first breed when they reach 2 years old. There is no breeding 'season', although in some areas breeding has been seen to take place in spring and again in the autumn. It depends on the availability of food and habitat. In the wild, an average of 1 - 2 young are born in each litter. Males and females become independent when they reach 18 months.
Otters' main food is small fish and crabs, but they are carnivores and will eat almost anything that is easy to catch, including birds on both water and shore, small mammals and larger fish such as dogfish.