AN OTTER family has been spotted playing at an East Yorkshire nature reserve where it was thought the rare breed no longer lived.

Two otter cubs – thought to be about two months old – were seen with their mother in frozen marshland at Tophill Low water treatment works near Driffield, which is also a public nature reserve.

Yorkshire Water, which runs the site, has been working over the past few years to encourage otter populations in the area, creating wetland habits which are ideal for the species.

Reserve warden Richard Hampshire believes the otter family was forced into the open by recent flooding.

“We’re absolutely delighted that all our hard-work and investment appears to be paying off, with the sighting of a female and her two cubs,” he said.

“We knew that we had a least one otter around the site, but this is the first confirmation we’ve had of a breeding success at the reserve in the last few years. Whilst nature created otters as daytime hunters, historical persecution has generally changed their behaviour and now they are only usually seen around dawn and dusk, with daytime sightings tending to be quite rare.

“We believe that the mother and cubs have had to evacuate their nearby holt after it became flooded during the heavy rain, which is why we’re seeing these cubs up and about slightly earlier than we’d normally expect.

“However, it’s common for the mother to have at least three nearby homes available to her, so any move is unlikely to be stressful and from the pictures alone, they all look to be in good health and enjoying themselves.”

He said the best place to spot the otters were at North Marsh Hide between 6am and 8am or 4pm to 6pm.

Yorkshire Water is now running a competition to name the otters. Entries currently include Ray Li-Otter, Oswald, Barry and Harry P-Otter. Can you do any better? Visit their dedicated Facebook or Twitter page.