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Distributed for Reaktion Books


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Although rarely seen in the wild, the otter is admired for its playful character and graceful aquatic agility, fixed in the popular imagination through books and films such as Tarka the Otter and Ring of Bright Water. This is just a small part of its story, however: throughout history, the otter has been hunted for its fur and to prevent it from killing fish. Featuring numerous images from nature and culture, as well as examples from folklore, sports, and literature, this wide-ranging book also explores the movement against otter hunting, and the ongoing efforts promoting otter conservation. A fittingly lively study of its subject, Otter offers a new way of thinking about this much-loved but endangered animal.

192 pages | 103 halftones | 5 x 8

Biological Sciences: Natural History

Literature and Literary Criticism: Germanic Languages

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"Allen's writing is engaging, especially in describing otters' natural history and popular otters real and fictional, including Henry Williamson's famous Tarka. . . . There's an urgent reason to keep reading about beavers and otters. The need to restore Britain's wetlands, indeed all wildlands, makes their stories a compelling part of conservation science, deserving our full attention."

Barbara J. King | Times Literary Supplement

“Did you know that the otter is J. K. Rowling’s favorite animal? Or that the earliest evidence of its existence dates back twenty million years? Or that the fur of the sea otter is the densest in the animal kingdom? All these and numerous other intriguing snippets of otter lore are contained within a beautifully presented volume as charming and captivating as its subject matter. . . . Gorgeous illustrations on nearly every page. . . . You will love this one.”

Daily Mail

"A captivating account of our changing relationship with the otter—once persecuted, now adored."

BBC Wildlife

“[A] fine furry paean.”


"Allen and Reaktion’s accomplished production of Otter befit its exceptionally charismatic and beautiful subject, and skillfully tracks the manner in which conservation lobbying and literature helped transform the otter from victim to survivor. It is to be hoped that it will inspire renewed efforts to study and conserve an animal which is now showing worrying signs of decline."

Times Literary Supplement

"The otter's reputation is well served by this readable account."


"This monograph tells both sides of the story and pulls no punches and must be the best account and resume of otters and their problems and their success than any other book I have read. It deals with the whole spectrum from persecution to folklore and sport to commercial enterprise."

Highland News

"A fascinating text, many illustrations, and good value for money. . . . A must-have of a book."

North Devon Journal

"This wide-ranging book includes anecdotes from folklore, sports, and popular literature, as well as exploring the ongoing efforts towards the otter's conservation. Otter is a fascinating book that offers a new way of thinking about this much-loved, but endangered animal."

Countryside Magazine

"From more familiar species of otter, such as the sea otters commonly found along California shores, to the Eurasian otters of England’s rivers, Allen’s Otter covers the entire gamut of the family tree, including such not-so-well-known notables as the once-thought-extinct hairy-nosed otter of the Far East and the nearing-extinction Giant Otter of The Guianas in South America. His rendering of the otter’s story offers an expansive glimpse at one of nature’s most delightful beings."

Rain Taxi Review of Books

"Otter is the most brilliant mix of facts ancient and modern about the otter species and its vulnerability to man’s seemingly insatiable need to hunt the poor animal for reasons other than survival. I am sure the book will help to ensure that the hunting of otters will never return to this country—and I hope other lands will follow this example. . . . A fascinating and illuminating book."

Virginia McKenna OBE

Table of Contents

1 Introducing the Otter
2 Folklore, Fables, Tradition and the Otter
3 Commercial Otter Hunting
4 Otter Hunting for Sport
5 The Literary Otter
6 The Otter On Screen
7 Protecting the Otter

Appendix: Otter Data
Timeline of the Otter
Select Bibliography
Websites and Associations
Photo Acknowledgements

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