Millennium Country Park is a great place to explore, and it's also a great place to relax! And that's just what we're trying to help one elusive wildlife visitor to do...

We've recently had confirmed sightings of otters from the viewing points in one of our bird hides. Wanting to keep these beautiful creatures as happy and healthy as possible, our Ranger team leapt into action to offer some comfortable shelter in the form of an artificial otter "holt" - a den, on or near a watercourse or body of water, where otters can rest and raise their young.

Holts occur naturally in cavities along riverbanks, tree roots, shrubby thickets or rocky crevices, but they will live anywhere there is access to clean freshwater, a food supply and secluded areas of vegetation to hide away. One otter territory can have 30 resting places that they use regularly, which is why artificial holts can be helpful to them.

Like our houses, otter holts can vary in size!

We chose to make a small holt of around 3m2, mostly because of the availability of materials.

Led by Ranger Sven, we used timber and willow brash collected from clearance work we’d been carrying out around the Park to create the holt on an area of land near the water in our Wetlands Nature Reserve. Because otters are nocturnal creatures they need somewhere safe that will be undisturbed during the day for them to rest, so the dense willow brash should be perfect for them to relax in peace.

Just like in the wild, our holt has more than one chamber and at least 2 entrances - this helps individuals escape if predators manage to get in. Large logs were used to create the walls and a partition inside to form the second chamber. Smaller branches (known as brash) were then piled on top to create a roof, with cut reed added for further insulation and protection from the elements. Finally another layer of brash was stacked on top of the reed to weight it down and help camouflage the holt.

Because we don't want to disturb any birds that might be nesting near the water we won't be able to check the holt area for any signs of activity until next winter, but we'll keep you up-to-date of any progress on our blog and in our newsletters!