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If you own a pond of any type, wildlife or koi you’ll know the dangers of the protected heron. Heron attacks have been an increasing problem over the years and a decoy or netting the pond although is unsightly can protect your fish but now there is a new threat to add to it.

The Otter is now on the increase thanks to cleaner rivers and the banning of certain chemicals associated with farming. Otters prefer moving water like rivers but why stop there when there’s easy pickings in an ornamental pond? Carp fisheries across the land are now protecting their stocks with otter fencing around the venues. Otters and Mink are a real threat now to fisheries and ponds. Here are some facts below. Just be aware that like herons Otters are also protected and it is an offence to trap or kill them.

Otters require 15 to 25% of their body weight per day in order to survive.

A female otter’s territory range can be between 5 to 8 miles, whilst for male otters it is typically 25 miles (although their range can be as large as almost 50 miles!)

Eurasian otters are opportunistic hunters. They do not hunt in packs but family groups of 3 or 4 otters may be seen when there are cubs to feed.

The highest risk of otter predation on garden pond fish is during the winter months. This is due to otters moving away from streams and rivers as they flood, causing fast flowing water and therefore otters move away from such habitats in order to conserve energy during the winter months.

Otters can potentially be hunting for food at any time during the day or night. However, it is likely that otters will visit garden ponds during the early hours of the morning as they are less likely to be disturbed

Otter kills of fish are often seen as a characteristic “V” shaped bite just behind the gills and in the throat area to access the vital organs. They will also take the complete head off of smaller fish and damage tails (usually as a result of chasing them). In contrast, mink kills will not leave a “V” shaped bite and will often take the heads of all fish (not just smaller fish). There will often also be bite marks or scratch marks observed at the back of the fish with mink kills. The typical signs of a heron kill will be a stab wound or mark down each side of the fish, if the heron misses as they will often take the whole fish as opposed to leaving some of the carcass to be found.

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