Otter Pictures

Lutra lutra

Otter pictures and paintings by Martin Ridley. Studying otters around the Shetlands and the west coast of the Highlands in shallow sea lochs have provided my best encounters with this elusive mammal.

I have included some otter wildlife watching tips.


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  Wildlife paintings: otter, Lutra lutra
Otter and Peat-stained River
Oils, 22 x 36 inches

  Otters have a specialist fur, which equips them for swimming in very cold water. When they are immersed a dense woolly under fur traps an insulating layer of air. Their longer outer guard hairs streamline the otter for swimming and quickly guide droplets off the otter once it is out of the water. Otters have to regularly groom their coats and keep them in top condition. It is a matter of survival.
Otter pictures: otters playing, Lutra lutra
Shooting the Rapids, Otters
Oils, 20 x 24 inches

Otter pictures: Otter amongst weedy rocks on a loch shore
Loch Ailort, Otter Lutra lutra
Oils, 12 x 20 inches

Otter pictures: Painting of an otter running along a beach.  There are the footprints of some other otters that have already passed the same way
Otter Beach
Oils, 20 x 16 inches
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This otter picture features on the screensavers

Pictures: Painting of an underwater view of an otter chasing a sea trout
"The Pursuit", Otter and Sea Trout
Oils, 19 x 24 inches

Original sold 
Otter print
Print image 250 x 300 mm
(approx. 10 x 12 inches)
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Open edition giclee prints reproduced from an original oil painting
Prints are signed by the artist
The prints are on Somerset Velvet watercolour paper
(100% cotton, acid free)

Otter pictures: View of the Isle of Fetlar in the Shetland Islands with an otter eating a fish on the shore
Otter with Catch
Oils, 20 x 14 inches
Observe Wild Otters
The following tips may be useful if you're planning some otter watching

  • Far easier around the remote Scottish coast
  • Shallower water in bays and lochs
  • Quieter areas with minimal human disturbance

    Picture of Otter habitat: Loch Sunart in the Western Highlands, Scotland  Prime otter habitat

  • Anytime of year
  • Coastal otters are often highly active by daylight.
  • They seem to like fishing at low tide.
  • Ripples from a swimming otter are more easily spotted when water is flat calm.
  • Visit before or after everyone else, out of season or on a rainy day. Otters will venture into areas they would otherwise avoid.
  • Spraints mark prominent places on the otter highways (They are fishy smelling, fish bone droppings, black and oily when fresh)
  • Footprints in the sand or mud

  • Wear appropriate clothing for the weather conditions so that you are safe and comfortable. Try not to wear bright or pale colours.
  • Take a pair of binoculars or a telescope
    Walk the coastline avoiding standing silhouetted on the skyline. Scan each stretch of coast using your optics. Spend twenty minutes quietly watching a bay before moving on to the next.
    Look particularly along the water's edge where an otter may have landed (they can be very camouflaged). In the water otters are most likely to be seen fishing in and around kelp beds. Preferring shallower water they are not usually far from the shore.
    As a priority try not to alarm any otter you get close to. Please do not add to the disturbance they are trying to avoid.
    They have an excellent sense of smell. You must not have the wind blowing from you towards the otter. Once you are detected the otter will disappear.
    Move slowly and quietly if an otter stares at you keep very still. Their eyesight is very poor if you don't move it will probably decide you aren't a danger and will relax again.
    Watch gulls they often wait near a feeding otter for any scraps
  • Learn all you can about otter behaviour. Prepare by further reading. I recommend the excellent book "The Track of the Wild Otter" by Hugh Miles.

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Apart from Shetland and the West coast of Scotland there are very few places where you can regularly watch otters in the wild. If watching wild otters doesn't sound practical I hope that you enjoy the ideas below.


Several wildlife parks keep european otters, Lutra lutra.

The Chestnut Centre

near Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire

The Otter Trust has sites at:

  • Earsham, near Bungay, Suffolk
  • North Petherwin near Launceston, Cornwall.

More otter pictures by Martin Ridley

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400 paintings photographed onto 5 x 4 inch transparencies many with publishing licenses available

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More Otter Paintings

Martin Ridley, Rossal, The Ross, Comrie, Crieff
Perthshire, Scotland PH6 2JU

Telephone: International +44 1764 670 695
UK  01764 670 695

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