Giant River Otter

Giant River Otter

Mammalia

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

COMMON NAME: giant river otter, waterdog
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Carnivora
FAMILY: Mustelidae
GENUS SPECIES: Pteronura brasiliensis

FAST FACTS

DESCRIPTION: Short coat appears brown when dry and a dark, shiny mocha when wet. Lips, chin, throat, and upper chest exhibit white blotches - which may merge into a single white "bib". Paws are large and webbed. Tail is thick at base and tapers to a dorsoventrally flattened end.
SIZE: Head & body length = 864-1,400 mm
Tail length = 330-1,000 mm
WEIGHT:
MALE 26-34 kg
FEMALE 22-26 kg
DIET: Fish and crabs
GESTATION: 65-70 days
NURSING DURATION Weaned at 3-4 months
SEXUAL MATURITY: Approximately 2 years
LIFE SPAN: Approximately 14 years
RANGE: Historically, Colombia, Venezuela, the Guianas, eastern Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and northeastern Argentina were included.
HABITAT: Slow-moving rivers and creeks within forests, swamps, and marshes. Shows a particular preference for waterways with gently sloping banks and good cover.
POPULATION: GLOBAL No data
STATUS: IUCN Vulnerable
CITES Appendix I
USFWS Endangered

FUN FACTS

1. Giant river otters are social, typically forming groups of 4-8 individuals (though congregations of upto 20 indiviuals have been observed). These groups generally maintain a home range of 12 km2. This home range is regularly patroled and marked (via the definitive anal glands typifiying mustelids).
2. Cubs are reared in a central den area (1.2-1.8 meters wide) which connects to an adjacent waterway via a tunnel or series of tunnels.
3. Nine distinct vocalizations have been characterized, varying from screams of excitement to coos of recognition.

ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION

The giant river otter has become rare or nonexistent over most of its range. This decline is largely due to habitat loss and commercial fur hunting. Though the fur trade is currently prohibited, hunting does continue.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Nowak, Ronald M. Walker's Mammals of the World - Volume I (Sixth Edition)