Trunk of an otter strongly extended. Rather small head from above is flattened. Ears are short, roundish, hardly act from surrounding fur, are supplied with the valves locking an acoustical opening under water. Legs are short, strong, with naked soles and well developed full swimming membranes between all five fingers. Claws are short, light. The tail is long, brawny, thick, flattened at the basis and narrowed by the end; its length (50 — 55 cm) exceeds a half of length of a body (70 — 75 cm). Weight is 7 — 10 kg. Males externally differ from females in only larger sizes.
The body is covered with the smooth brown or dark-brown fur consisting of more rough and brilliant dark awn and very empty, slightly wavy light brown underfur. On sides color of fur gradually brightens and on a belly becomes silvery, with a brownish or yellowish shade. Paws and tail dark-brown. The dense fur at a healthy animal is absolutely impenetrable for water.
At a molt indumentum is replaced imperceptibly and very slowly. The molt proceeds in the spring and in the summer.
Summer fur — with shorter, but an awn and a low underfur, dense, adjacent to skin. On seasons the fur at an otter differs very poorly, and definition of seasonal grades of skins — business quite difficult.
The trace of a hinder leg extended usually with well outlined extended heel, five strongly moved apart fingers, a swimming membrane and light prints of short claws. Length of a trace is about 9 cm, width is up to 6 cm. The forepaw leaves more roundish mark, about 6,5 cm long.
Otter traces, at a slow speed of an animal, last very poorly coiling chain. Between prints of paws the furrow from the belly dropping to the earth and a tail is quite often noticeable. At short jumps the otter leaves pair marks of paws at distance of 45 — 50 cm. The trace usually reaches on coast and on shallows of reservoirs, and in the winter — on ice and snow, from an ice-hole for an ice-hole. In a night the animal manages to pass up to ten kilometers sometimes. On friable snow the body and a tail leave a deep furrow.
On an otter trace, under dead wood and the washed-away coast, it is quite often possible to meet the eaten-around fishes, frogs, the remains of crayfish and other food.
The otter dung liquid, contains bones and scales of fishes, fragments of armors of crayfish, bones of frogs. Most often it occurs at water — on logs, stones and shallows.
The otter is widespread across all territory of the CIS where there are only fish streams, the rivers and lakes with which life of an animal is closely connected Is absent only in the tundra of Far North and in the Crimea. On the Kola peninsula meets on the rivers and lakes everywhere, lives on the island of Kildin and along all sea coast. In the south the area covers it Belarus and Ukraine to the Black Sea, and also the Caucasus, Transcaucasia and Central Asia; on the East, through the Urals and all Siberia gets to Anadyr, Kamchatka, coasts of the Okhotsk and Japanese seas. In highlands climbs the rivers on considerable height. On Pamir, for example, lives at the height up to 3000 m.
At so extensive distribution the otter, nevertheless, almost everywhere is few, and in places is very rare. Rather often meets in Karelia, in the Arkhangelsk region, in Altai, in Sayan Mountains and on Baikal, and also on Kamchatka and Sikhote-Alin. In Ukraine, in a forest-steppe strip, it is rare; the otter in lower reaches of Ob is also rare, and across Yenisei gets on the North only to Tura-hanska. It is not on Khatanga, it is not enough on Kolyma. Outside the CIS the ordinary otter inhabits all Western Europe, the most part of Asia, extending to the South to Hindustan and the southern China. Four close look inhabit North and South America, two — Africa and two — India.
On all space of the CIS the otter does not form any resistant geographical races, and only on Pamir, the form inhabiting also Iran and Afghanistan which is allocated in subspecies of Lutra lutra seistanica Bir lives in the southern Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. It differs in lighter grayish-brown coloring of a back and a light bichromatic tail.
Lives on coast of the rivers, lakes and streams, and sometimes on the sea coast. In mountain districts often lodges in taluses and cracks of rocks, on coast of small rivers and streams. Prefers the rivers with a rapid current, a stony bed abounding with fish and nyrkovy ducks; in the quiet, overgrown rivers meets much less often.
Usually chooses steep, overgrown coast where under the hung roots digs holes and arranges a den. The entrance opening of a hole does under water, at a depth about a half a meter. Then the course rises and goes to depth of the dry coast, to expansion where the inhabited chamber which usually settles down higher than the level of spring waters is arranged. The narrow otnorka serving for ventilation depart from a nest and the courses of a hole to the Earth's surface. It is difficult to notice a hole, and only the remains write, for example the cracked sinks of mollusks on shallows, point to continuous dwelling of an otter in this place.
In the south of the country the techka at otters happens in February, in the north — in March. At this time males often fight, lift fuss in water and chase females. Pregnancy continues 9 —-10 weeks then the female brings 2 — 4 blind puppies. Sometimes blind cubs are found later, even in July. Approximately for the tenth day they open eyes, and weeks through eight mother brings young people to hunting for fish, and they keep at mother not less than eight months Under favorable conditions and abundance of a forage of an otter long live on one place, but sometimes make big transitions (to 15 — 20 km) on absolutely waterless spaces. In the winter are active and keep about nonfreezing reservoirs and ice-holes.
The food consists from various water and partly land animals the Otter very successfully catches different fish (weighing up to 2 — 5 kg), crayfish, frogs, sometimes eats mollusks and bugs; the considerable part of its food is made by also small mammals, a water and marsh bird.
The otter — mainly night animal she spends Day usually in a hole or among the washed-away roots, but sometimes during a heat is basked in the sun, lying on stones or the trunk which fell in water To hunting goes to twilight. Otters in moonlight nights are especially active Often under the moon it be possible to observe how the whole family plays in silent creeks and whirlpools.
External feelings of an otter are developed well. Sense of smell, hearing and sight at it fine In bondage is quickly tamed, knows the owner, likes to caress and play. Its voice — easy whistle which is especially often published by males during fights in the spring.
Despite the high value of separate skins, value of an otter in fur preparations it is not big In a skin of an otter value is only of an underfur and therefore when processing the awn is pulled out. Very warm, strong and easy fur turns out.
Continuous trade does not exist. It is got more or less incidentally, various ways, mainly with likes, sometimes with hounds. On this hunting the fox terriers applied to hunting for a badger and a fox can be used. Without dogs it is possible to get an otter in the winter close in the tracks or incidentally, having met her on the land.
In light moonlight nights watch for an otter at ice-holes and on ice-holes. This hunting, however, very often leads to senseless destruction of an animal as even fatally wounded otter disappears in water. It is not necessary to shoot an otter on deep water, it is necessary to allow to it to rise by the coast or by ice and then already to shoot in fraction No. 0 or 1, it is the best of all in the head.
The otter is well caught by the heavy traps established in water before a hole on a chain or an anchor. On the land traps mask a moss, a grass and are put on vydrovy tracks and places of thighs. In some areas the otter is driven into specially put double-walled networks.