Family of otters move into lake at beauty spot

The lake at Pittville Park in Cheltenham with Otters at Escot in Devon (inset). NOTE: As the caption says, these ARE NOT the otters at Pittville Park. This is a stock image
The lake at Pittville Park in Cheltenham with, inset, otters (not the ones at the park) -Credit:Esmond Lane and Shared Content Unit

A family of otters have been spotted in a lake at a popular town park. The protected species has been seen at Pittville Park in Cheltenham.

Cheltenham Borough Council confirmed the otters pose "very little risk to other wildlife" in one of Cheltenham's popular green spaces. The otters are believed to have migrated upstream to Pittville Park from the Severn Vale.

Sightings had originally been made last April. Since then, the borough council has installed trail cameras in areas where they are known to visit, which will hopefully provide confirmation of numbers and their overall health.

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During 2023 and the start of 2024, three otters were seen in the park, a mother and her two cubs (kits). The latest sightings have only been of the female.

The cubs may have left the mother now as otter cubs tend to leave her protection at around 12 months old to set up a home of their own. The otters will then start breeding from approximately two years of age say the council but they have said no other wildlife will be at risk such as the Pittville Park swans.

Otters at Escot in Devon. NOTE: As the caption says, these ARE NOT the otters at Pittville Park. This is a stock image
A file image of otters -Credit:Shared Content Unit

A spokesperson for Cheltenham Borough Council said: "There is very little risk to other wildlife in the park as otters will mostly eat fish such as carp and trout. With a good supply of food, it’s unlikely that they will look somewhere else. While otters are known to occasionally take smaller birds such as moorhen and coot, ducks are more likely to be targeted by a crow or grey heron."

The council have also commented on advice for the public on what you should do if you see an otter. "Otters are naturally nocturnal so if you see one during the day, enjoy the sighting! You will be very lucky to see one in the daylight. They are a protected species, so any attempt to interfere or harm them is a criminal offence. If you see anyone trying to do this, you should report it to the police straight away. If you do see an otter, then you can take a photo and email with details of when, where and how many."