Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Wildwood to create wetland wildlife discovery centre to help otters in Kent

Wildwood is celebrating a generous donation of £21,000 towards a new wetland wildlife discovery centre at the park.

The funds have been donated by the W.G. Harvey Discretionary Trust, a charitable trust dedicated to the prevention of cruelty to animals and the preservation of wild animal and bird life.

The donation will help the Wildwood Trust create a new area at the park which will be centred around a new otter enclosure, with a water shrew enclosure, water vole viewing area and simple aquariums for British aquatic creatures. The area will be used to educate our 100,000 plus visitors a year about the animals that live in British wetland habitats, to help protect them in the wild and encourage their re-population of our rivers.

It has been much published in recent months that whilst otter numbers have bounced back across many areas of the UK, they are still to make a recovery in Kent. A recent survey by The Environment Agency has revealed that otters are now found everywhere except Kent.

As a conservation charity, Wildwood is dedicated to the study of threatened British Wildlife and promoting awareness and education through allowing people to see our native animals in as natural habitat as possible.

Visitors will be able to view into the otter holt and the nest areas of the water shrew and water vole, and see the animals swimming in a near natural enclosure.

The otter enclosure will be the central feature, and will have a hospital area to keep otters separate should they need vet treatment, or when new otters arrive at Wildwood. The main enclosure will have a filtered pond and a large otter den, all constructed in natural woodland. The otter den will have special chambers with one-way glass, to assist behavioural studies without disturbing the otters, aiding research and giving our visitors the chance to see and learn about these beautiful and elusive creatures.

Peter Smith, Chief Executive of Wildwood said “We are extremely pleased to receive these vital funds that will allow us to highlight the plight of the otter and help us in our campaign to make our rivers a safe place that will once again harbour our wetland wildlife.”

Otter Facts

Eurasian Otter - Lutra lutra

The Eurasian otter is one of Britain’s largest remaining carnivores. Once common on waterways all over the British Isles, they are now rare in England and Wales, although they are still a common sight in some areas of Scotland.

There are many species of otter around the world but in Britain we have only one species. Some British otters live on the coast and hunt in the sea whilst others live inland and hunt in rivers, but they are both Eurasian otters.

Did you know? Otters...

Can close off their noses and ears when they go underwater so that they don’t get water up their nose or in their ears!

Have a special name for their droppings - they are called spraints.

Can hold their breath for up to 4 minutes underwater if they have to but don’t often hold it for more than 10 seconds.

Are related to badgers, weasels, stoats, pine martens and polecats.

Life in the Water

Otters live in a wide range of aquatic habitats, from moorland streams, lakes and ponds to large rivers, estuaries and sea coasts. They feed mainly on fish, which makes up 70 - 95% of their diet. They also eat shellfish, eels, newts, frogs, birds and small mammals.

Male otters generally have larger territories than females and may overlap with several females, mating with all of them. Otters communicate with one another by leaving spraints (otter poo) on rocks, grass tussocks and fallen trees throughout their

territory. Otters have a streamlined shape, a thick tail which helps them to steer in the water and webbed feet for paddling. Their fur is very thick, with a layer of underfur to keep them warm and waterproof guard hairs so that the underfur stays dry. Otters were once hunted for their fur and people believed that a coat of otterskin would keep you from drowning. People were also once undecided about whether the otter was a mammal or a fish because it was so at home in the water. Some even believed that it was a magical animal that behaved as a fish in the water and grew legs when it came out!

Otter families

Otters are usually solitary animals in the wild, with males and females occupying separate territories. Otters do not mate for life and a male otter will probably mate with all the females whose territories overlap with his. Unlike most animals, otters have no set breeding season and can mate at any time of the year. This means that kits can be born all year round, although spring and early summer are the most common, due to the plentiful food available. The kits will remain with their mother until they are almost a year old, as it takes a long time for them to learn how to hunt efficiently. The kits will then disperse, the males usually travelling further to find territories of their own.

No comments:

Post a Comment

You only need to enter your comment once! Comments will appear once they have been moderated. This is so as to stop the would-be comedian who has been spamming the comments here with inane and often offensive remarks. You know who you are!

Related Posts with Thumbnails