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Where to see Otters in Scotland

Date published: 26/7/2022

Otter spotting at Eagle Brae, Scotland

What could be more magical than seeing a couple of otters at play when you’re visiting with us at Eagle Brae? A truly rewarding experience. But spotting these wonderful, playful creatures takes a little patience. And knowing where to go to see otters while you’re in Scotland takes a touch of local knowledge. Here at Eagle Brae, we are well-placed for you to be able to spot an otter or two while taking advantage of the walking opportunities on offer.

About the otter

The European otter is at home in freshwater and saltwater. They are happy living on the banks of rivers, lochs, and burns as well as on the seashore. Although they are at home in both, they need fresh water to keep their coats in good condition. They will head inland to find it and have a good wash. Semi-aquatic, they get most of their food from the sea, rivers, or lochs.

They are about the size of a small dog. Their long body and short legs mean they run with a lollop. But they are much more graceful, and at home, in the water. They are pretty much solitary creatures and can be a little shy.

Otters are now flourishing in Scotland and visitors quite often get the chance to see them. There are approximately 8,000 on our shores, in our rivers, and on lochs. But, pesticides were a problem for the population during the 50s and 70s.

Where to see otters

So where are the best places to go and see otters when you visit Scotland? The fewer the people around the better for these elusive creatures. They have excellent hearing so, being as quiet as possible gives you a better chance of spotting an otter or two. They also have an incredibly good sense of smell, and their eyesight is very sharp.

While you’re out walking one of the many beautiful walks along the river or near the lochs around Eagle Brae, take some time to see if you can spot them.

The Beauly River is not far from us and there are some lovely walks along there. We have an abundance of lochs nearby. Lochs Beannacharan, Neaty, Bruicheach, a’Mhuilinn, and na meine are all possibilities. And, of course, there is the coastline to the east. A calm sea normally offers a really good chance to see the shy creatures frolicking.

Otter mum and baby frolicking on seashore
Otter spotting – Mum and baby frolicking on seashore

How to spot otters

We wish we could guarantee that you will be able to see some otters while you are with us. Unfortunately, they can be quite elusive. But, if you are walking along the river Beauly or decide to travel a little further afield to one of the lochs or the beach, we can help you have a better chance with our Top Otter Spotting Tips:

  • Find somewhere comfy to sit along the riverbank. If you can, lay down
  • Try to make sure you are downwind of where you think they might appear
  • Stay quiet
  • Wear muted colours and, of course, warm, waterproof clothing
  • Stay below the horizon – if they spot your outline, they will stay hidden
  • Have patience and wait
  • If you have them, take binoculars with you. You can scan the water for the tell-tale v-shape that the otter makes in the water when it swims
  • Avoid taking your dog with you – they will definitely smell it if a dog is nearby
Otter laying on its back in the sea
Otter laying on its back in the sea

They spend a lot of their time in the water looking for food. But they do spend quite a bit of time ashore – eating, grooming, playing, and resting. They will always choose secluded spots with lots of coverage to camouflage themselves. These wonderful creatures do tend to be quite elusive but, you may be lucky. Even if you don’t manage to see an otter while you are staying with us here in Scotland, you may hear them calling to other otters with high-pitched squeaks and warning others with angry chatter.

Before you head off to see how many otters you can spot, it is worth having a chat with us, or any of the locals. Local knowledge of where otters have been seen recently will have you heading in the right direction and with much more of a chance of seeing one.

The Scottish Highlands have so much to offer for anyone who likes to be outdoors. So, if you’re planning to escape to the Scottish Highlands to experience the wonderful wildlife or dramatic scenery, our log cabins are the perfect central point to set out and explore from!

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