The Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra) is an autochthonous species from the marten family that is found in lakes Palic and Ludas, as well as all over the entire Kireš river basin in the Subotica region. It is dark brown in colour and about one meter long. Otters belong to the strictly protected species. Their extremely dense fur and webbed feet enable them to cope well in aquatic ecosystems. Otters have a diet primarily on fish. Yet, they are not very picky. They know how to push prey in parts of the lake, overgrown by grass or reeds, and attack from above with their sharp and strong teeth.
Otters are solitary animals. It means that they spend most of their time on their own and that males and females meet only during the mating season. The territories of several females are aggregated into a group territory. There is also the basic territory of each female and her young within this group territory in which she predominantly lives and which is not visited by neighboring females. Males have huge areas of movement up to the length of 80 km and overlapping with the areas and territories of several females (Kruuk H., 2006). Interestingly, the cubs learn to swim from about 3 months of age when their fur grows enough and becomes waterproof. Before that, they are very clumsy in the water and are afraid to enter it. So, their mother pushes them literally by force into the water in that period until they learn to swim.
Several families of otters have been registered at Ludas and Palic lakes, which were evenly grouped in the area of lakes and reeds. The long-term protection of these areas, and the continuous implementation of measures for active protection of the area, enable unhindered reproduction of this carnivorous species. The connection of Ludas lake with the surrounding standing waters through the ecological corridor – Palic-Ludas canal and the river Kires makes Ludas lake the central habitat position for a metapopulation structure, from where young individuals can migrate to neighboring lakes, water areas and less favorable habitats. In the interest of preserving this population structure and enlarging the local population as much as possible, it is necessary to make sure there is a certain quality of ecological corridors, as well as water quality in all parts of the corridor.
There is a noticeable quality improvement of the aquatic habitat of this strictly protected species due to the implementation of the “Ecolacus” project, which is supported by the increasing number of reported observations.
(Photo credits: Levente Szekeres)