Otters (Lutra lutra) are a European Protected Species that live adjacent to and use rivers, canals, lakes, marshes, ponds and the coast. Otters can be present in watercourses in both rural and urban environments. Surveys can be required when suitable habitat is present on or near to a site which is likely to be impacted by the works.


Otter surveys start with a habitat suitability assessment and then focus on suitable areas with a search for otters and signs of otters, such as droppings, footprints and resting places. Otter droppings, or scat, are normally found on rocks, logs or other obvious structures along the watercourse and often contain fish bones and shells.

It possible to survey for otters year-round.

Surveying calendar

ecology survey legend

Otter survey calendar


If otters are present

If otters are confirmed to be present and are likely to be impacted by the works, mitigation such as the creation of artificial holts and the production of specific habitat management plans may be required along with a European Protected Species Licence from the applicable Statutory Nature Conservation Organisation (SNCO), e.g. Natural England.

More information

ADAS can provide otter surveys and advise on any otter licences or mitigation which will be required to allow the development to proceed. For more information, contact James Towers

Meet the Ecology team