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October 2006. Compact one-bedroom home, eco-friendly design, would suit single otter.

18/04/2007 00:00:00


  • Otters are globally threatened and nearly disappeared from
  • Britain in the 20th century but improvements to the water quality in rivers and streams have helped them recover.
  • The Surrey Wildlife Trust is a registered charity and manages over 60 sites covering more than 4000 hectares of Surrey's countryside.
October 2006. Compact one-bedroom home, eco-friendly design, would suit single otter.
Minnie. © Thames Water.
A newly designed man made otter holt, funded by Thames Water, is being tested at the British Wildlife Centre in Surrey and already has one tenant in Minnie, a 9 year-old otter, that has built a nest in the prototype. It is lightweight and easy-to-assemble and it is hoped that it will help boost the threatened animal's numbers. The coffee table-sized otter ‘holt’ was designed by Chris Matcham, Otters & Rivers Project Officer at the Surrey Wildlife Trust.

‘Traditionally, these artificial homes were made from logs which rot easily or concrete slabs which are heavy and do not provide the otters with much warmth.’ said Matcham.

‘This model is made from recycled plastic and has tunnels to make the otters feel more secure. It is also smaller and thus traps their body heat to make a more cosy living space while still being big enough to house any otter cubs that might come along. The flatpack design slots together easily and can be rolled out in urban spaces where the shelter that otters need is in short supply.’

Last month an otter was seen in central London for the first time in over a century and otter droppings have been found near Thames Water's reservoirs at Walthamstow.

Nick Clark, Thames Water's Conservation Officer, said: ‘We know numbers of this elusive animal have increased as the water quality in our rivers and streams has improved and yet the man-made otter homes in place at 30 of our sites are still empty.

‘We are keen to find a more enticing residence for these much-loved mammals and as the otters seem happy with the new design, we're happy!’

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