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Can you have an otter as a pet?

Keeping an otter as a pet has become fashionable in some countries for some time. Animals other than those that are usually kept as a companion or domestic animal attract a lot of attention and generate curiosity to know what it is like to have one at home. However, mascotism damages biodiversity, since it does not focus on domestic animals and usually includes exotic animals that, in some countries, are admitted beyond zoological centers or fauna recovery projects. According to the laws of the country, certain animals can be kept at home, either complying with a series of basic requirements or including the obligation to have some papers, such as permits or certificates. However, even if the legal requirements of some countries are met, there are animals that are not domestic and cannot be kept in good condition even if we have a space that we consider “adequate”. So, can you have an otter as a pet or not? In AgroCorrn, seeing that the trend of wanting to have otters is spreading, we want to clarify this doubt with this article.

Are otters pets?

Otters are definitely not domestic animals , they are wild animals . Therefore, although in some situations they adapt somewhat to captivity, it is due to situations of need, such as in the projects that exist to recover their natural populations to return them to their habitat or in cases in which they must remain in captivity for no longer be able to survive on their own, but always in specialized zoological centers or nuclei.

Where otters live

Otters are semi-aquatic mammals that live between water and land, so they are mostly seen swimming but also on the banks of rivers, canals, swamps, etc. and also on the shores of beaches or coasts.

What otters eat

Otters are carnivorous animals and feed mainly on fish , crustaceans, and mollusks . However, they also eat small birds, amphibians, lizards, eggs, and a variety of invertebrate animals.

What do I do if I find an injured otter

If you find an otter that needs help, it is best not to touch it , since being mammals, like us, they can transmit many more diseases than other types of animals and if it is badly injured and is afraid it will not hesitate to defend itself, scratching and biting. Therefore, it is best that you call a wildlife recovery center while you try not to lose sight of it until they arrive and the professionals take charge of helping you.

Is it possible to have an otter as a pet?

Around the world there are several species of otter, currently all these species are included in Appendices I and II of the CITES convention , which translates into the prohibition of their capture and trade, since all of them are classified as endangered species. of extinction. Consequently, the international trade in otters is totally prohibited .

As a result, in Spain it is not legal to have an otter as a pet , being allowed to handle it solely for scientific reasons, such as its population study or as part of plans for reintroduction into its habitats, and always with prior authorization through an import or export permit .

The European otter in Spain

In the case of Spain, within the country’s autochthonous fauna , there is one of the otter species, known as Iberian otter, European or Palearctic otter ( Lutra lutra ) , which was the target of persecution between the 70s and 80s. , suffering a serious decline of the species and reaching 72.7% the number of deliberate deaths between 1970 and 1985.

However, in recent years and thanks to the different recovery plans for this species and its habitats, we can say that currently in Spain the otter population is recovering at favorable levels. This species is considered “of special interest” in the Spanish catalog of threatened species (Royal Decree 139/2011), in turn, the Habitats Directive lists it as one of the species of community interest for which it is necessary to designate special areas conservation , as well as animals that require strict protection (Annex IV Directive 92 / 43CEE).

Regulatory reality on the keeping of otters in the European Union and Spain

As a consequence of the inclusion of otters in Annex IV of the Habitats Directive , article 12 of said regulation comes into play, which establishes that:

“ 1. Member States shall take the necessary measures to establish a rigorous protection system for the animal species listed in letter a) of Annex IV, in their natural distribution areas, prohibiting:

a) any form of deliberate capture or killing of specimens of such species in the wild;

b) deliberate disturbance of these species, especially during periods of reproduction, rearing, hibernation and migration;

c) the intentional destruction or collection of eggs in the wild;

d) the deterioration or destruction of breeding places or resting areas.

2. With respect to these species, the Member States shall prohibit the possession, transport, trade or exchange and offer for the sale or exchange of specimens collected from the wild, with the exception of those that have been legally collected before. of the implementation of this Directive. ”.

In turn, internally we find article 334 of the Spanish Penal Code , which establishes that:

” It will be punished with a prison sentence of six months to two years or a fine of eight to twenty-four months and, in any case, special disqualification for profession or trade and special disqualification for the exercise of the right to hunt or fish for a period of two to four years who, in contravention of the laws or other provisions of a general nature:

1. hunt, fish, acquire, possess or destroy protected species of wildlife;

2. traffic with them, their parts or derivatives thereof; or, carry out activities that prevent or hinder their reproduction or migration. “ .

Likewise, the smuggling law establishes in its article 2 section b that

“Those persons who carry out import, export, trade, possession, circulation of specimens of wild fauna and flora and their parts and products, of species included in the Washington Convention of March 3, 1973, commit the crime of smuggling, or in Council Regulation (EC) No. 338/1997, of December 9, 1996, without complying with the legally established requirements. ”.

This translates into administrative sanctions, sometimes even being classified as a crime of smuggling, punishable by imprisonment from one to five years and a fine of from both to six times the value of the goods, merchandise, goods or effects, imposing the penalties in its upper half in cases of smuggling of species included in the CITES Regulation .

Motion 114 presented for the World Conservation Congress (Marseille 2020)

Finally, it is necessary to point out that one of the motions presented for the World Conservation Congress , which will be held in Marseille soon, specifically motion 114 called “Save the world’s otters” , is presented on the premise of the alarming decrease of the different populations of otters around the world due to the destruction of their habitats, as well as their capture and illegal trade , since their possession as a pet is on the rise in many countries , which requires greater legal protection globally to curb this trend.

Likewise, this motion shows concern about the lack of measures adopted regarding the Asian trade in live otters for use as pets, and about the impact this is having on this species, the Asian otter being the most affected by this trend short- clawed ( Aonyx cinereus ) , thus hoping to achieve greater protection worldwide that ends the persecution and exploitation that this species is suffering in recent times to be used as a companion animal .

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