Page last updated at 15:17 GMT, Friday, 18 December 2009

Otters open eyes for first time

Asian short-claw otter courtesy of Martin Mere
The Asian short-clawed otter is the least aquatic of all otters

Four Asian short-clawed otters, born at a wildlife centre in Lancashire are now old enough to leave their den.

The pups are two-months-old and have finally opened their eyes at WWT Martin Mere centre in Burscough.

Born on 3 October, staff hope they will be prowling around on Christmas Day, when a feast of soft meat and fish awaits them.

The breed is currently under threat because of the destruction of its natural habitat.

Their parents, Ned and Thai, who have bred for the first time, have ensured their offspring have grown at a healthy rate, putting an average of 10g (0.35oz) a day.

Asian claw otters courtesy of Martin Mere
The otters grow by 10g a day when they are babies

Centre manager, Andy Wooldridge, said: "I am delighted that the otters have settled in so well and produced young, especially as the parents have only been together for five months.

"Adults and young are all very healthy and it will be a delight to watch them spend their first Christmas together as a family.

"I have no doubt that the young otters will prove to be a huge attraction over the next couple of months."

They are the least aquatic of all the 13 species of otter and the enclosure has been designed to only allow areas of shallow water.

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