Otters can be found in and around most of the waterways in the Brecon Beacons National Park. The otter is a naturally shy creature, emerging from cover around dawn and dusk.
Otter are territorial animals and will generally be found all year round along a section of river or stream some 5-20km long. Otters live and breed in sheltered bankside holes called ‘holts’, most often the hollow space amongst bankside tree roots, but they will readily use artificially made sites or other structures that offer seclusion and a quick exit into the river.
It’s fairly easy to tell when otters are around as they leave paw prints with a chunky shape and five toes, unlike dogs, whose prints have four. You may also spot large fish remains and otter faeces, called spraints, which many people say smell like fresh hay or jasmine tea!
Our thriving population of otters indicates the health of our waterways. Otters suffered a severe decline across the UK between 1950 and 1980, but were made a protected species in 1981. Now that they and their holts are protected by international law, they have been recovering. Thanks to improvements in water quality and more sympathetic management of banksides, this charismatic, fish-eating mammal can now even be seen in Brecon, Crickhowell and Llangynidr, where the River Usk flows right through the towns.
Both otters and their holts are protected under UK and European laws.
For information regarding the presence of otters on development sites in the National Park please view the planning pages.
What to do if you find a dead otter:
The Cardiff University Otter Project relies on reports of carcasses by members of the public, and organisations such as the Environment Agency, Countryside Council for Wales, UK Wildlife Trusts, the police and local authorities.
In the event of finding a dead otter, please telephone 0800 807060 (Natural Resources Wales) with details of the location.
Use the navigation bar on the left to explore more species in the National Park.