This chapter describes terrestrial and underwater habitats for different otter species. Results of surveys of terrestrial habitat selection based on distribution of faeces (‘spraints’) should be treated with caution. The aquatic part of the habitat is restricted by depth as well as substrate and access to prey. Different habitats are used at various times of year, and in several species the sexes use different habitats; males preferring larger rivers or more exposed coasts. Small freshwater streams are used more intensively per unit area than larger rivers. Where several species of otter occur together, they show different selection of habitat. Sea otters have a dominating effect on ecosystems through their influence on numbers of sea urchins, which graze sea algae vegetations. For several otter species using marine habitats, the presence of freshwater sources (for cleansing fur) is essential; numbers of otter dens (‘holts’) and freshwater sources are correlated.
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