Comparison of the feeding habits of Eurasian otters on a fast flowing river and its backwater habitats

J. Lanszki, Z. Sallai

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29 Citations (Scopus)


The diet and feeding habits of Eurasian otters Lutra lutra were studied by spraint analysis over a 2- year period, on three sections of the Drava River and three backwaters, in south-west Hungary. The primary food was fish (mean: 89.8% and 87.5% for riverine and backwater habitats, respectively); otters living in riverine habitats compared to backwaters, consumed more birds (3.9% and 0.7%, respectively), less mammals (0.5% and 0.9%, respectively), less reptiles and amphibians (5.6% and 10.2%, respectively) and less invertebrates (0.1% and 0.6%, respectively). In riverine habitats otters preyed more frequently on larger fish than in backwaters, but the main fish prey was small-sized (below 100 g in weight, 85.6% and 91.7%, respectively). On river sections they preyed more frequently on reophil (flow preferring fish, 18.9% and 3.3%, respectively), and less on stagnophil fish (stagnant waters preferring, 9.8% and 24.5%, respectively) than in backwaters. The main fish prey was eurytopic (tolerant of rivers and stagnant waters, 71.3% and 72.2%, respectively). Preference (by Ivlev's electivity index, Ei) in the Drava River for various fish guilds differed, as the otters preferred eurytopic (Ei= 0.30) and stagnophil fish (Ei= 0.24), and avoided reophil fish (Ei=-0.58). Otters did not threaten the rare, flow preferring fish species and the main diet consisted of economically unimportant species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)336-346
Number of pages11
JournalMammalian Biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 13 2006



  • Lutra lutra
  • fish electivity, Drava, Hungary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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