eightpence. Italianotto , eight.—Lingua Franca.


Otter  (Lutra vulgaris ).—On the upper parts, the fur of the otter is dark brown, while on the lower parts it is lighter brown. Its body is about thirty inches long, and its tail eight inches; between its toes there are web membranes. The otter is rather a water than a land animal. On land it is clumsy and uneasy in its movements, but in the water quick and persevering. It hunts fish, and its sharp eyes greatly assist it in this hunt. It is very seldom seen, as it is very shy and constantly hiding, mostly committing its depredations during the night. Otter hunting is, therefore, difficult; but in winter, when the snow has just fallen, and the water has been frozen over, the spots may be found where the fish otter enters the water. There it can be killed with a spear.

The Otter

T HE Otter belongs to a class of animals which we may call the Weasel tribe. Their bodies are long and lithe, and their legs short. This family includes the weasel (its smallest member), the stoat, the ferret, the pole-cat, the marten, and the otter (its largest member). You may then think of the Otter as a water-ferret, or water-weasel. He can swim most elegantly, and he is a beautiful diver. Let a fish glide underneath him, and he is after it in a moment; and as the fish darts here and there to escape, the Otter follows each rapid movement with unerring precision. When the fish is caught, the Otter carries it to the bank and makes a meal. But the Otter is like naughty Jack who leaves a saucy plate—he spoils much more fish than he eats. The trout and other fish are so much alarmed at the appearance of an Otter, that they will sometimes fling themselves on the bank to get out of his way.