Big River Otter, Pteronura Brasiliensis, Big Otter: Details & Photos

The enormous river otter, or large otter, is a carnivorous mammal that inhabits the rainforests of South America. On this web page, you’ll discover large river otter information, footage, video and in-depth data, providing you with the entire lowdown on this distinctive semiaquatic predator…

Big Otter Details At A Look

  • Scientific title: Pteronura brasiliensis
  • Different title(s): Big river otter, large Brazilian otter, river wolf
  • Sort of Animal: Mammal
  • Animal Household: Mustelidae (the weasel household)
  • The place Discovered: North-central South America
  • Physique size: Male 1.5 to 1.7m (4.9 to five.6ft); feminine 1.0 to 1.5m (3.3 to 4.9ft)
  • Tail size: As much as 70cm (28in)
  • Weight: Male 26 to 32kg (57 to 71lb); feminine 22 to 26kg (49 to 57lb)
  • Conservation Standing: Endangered

Big River Otter: Introduction

Giant River Otter Head

The enormous river otter, Pteronura brasiliensis, also referred to as the enormous otter, is the world’s longest, and second-heaviest, otter species. It’s native to South America, the place it’s discovered within the Amazon, Orinoco, and La Plata river methods.

The enormous river otter can be the longest, and second-heaviest member of all the weasel household, Mustilidae. (The heaviest otter (and member of the weasel household) is the sea otter, Enhydra lutris.)

Like different otters, the enormous river otter is a semiaquatic, carnivorous mammal. Though primarily discovered on land (supply), the species has quite a few variations for shifting and looking in water, together with a streamlined physique with brief legs, webbed toes, and a protracted, muscular tail.

Predominantly discovered close to freshwater rivers, the enormous river otter lives in household teams and is territorial. The members of the group talk to at least one one other utilizing a various vary of vocalizations. (The enormous river otter is among the most social, and noisiest, of all otters.)

Giant Otter In Water

The river otter digs dens, often called “holts”, which function resting locations and protected havens for elevating its younger. The entrances to those dens are sometimes underwater, offering safety from predators.

The otter’s eating regimen is primarily fish-based, nevertheless it additionally consumes crustaceans and small reptiles, together with snakes and even small caimans.

The Worldwide Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at present lists the enormous river otter as “Endangered” as a consequence of threats together with habitat destruction, water air pollution, and historic attempting to find its fur.

Big River Otter Household And Associated Species

The enormous river otter is a member of the weasel household, Mustelidae. Together with weasels and otters, this household can be dwelling to animals equivalent to badgers and the wolverine.

13 otter species are at present acknowledged. Collectively, they make up the subfamily Lutrinae.

The enormous otter is the one member of the genus Pteronura, and has two subspecies: P. b. brasilensis and P. b. paraguensis. (Supply: Mammal Species of the World).

What Does The Big Otter Look Like?

Giant river otter
Big river otter within the peruvian Amazon jungle at Madre de Dios, Peru

The enormous river otter is a strong semi-aquatic mammal, recognized for its spectacular dimension. Its physique is streamlined and muscular, constructed for agility in water, with a size that may attain as much as 1.8 meters (roughly 6 toes).

The fur of a large otter is predominantly darkish brown, giving off an nearly black sheen when moist, and is dense and velvety to the contact, offering insulation towards the cool waters it frequents. The guard fur (the outer layer of fur) is thick and water-repellent. A shorter inside coat supplies insulation.

The standard of the enormous otter’s coat has led to the species being focused by fur hunters, a contributing issue to the species’ endangered standing.

One of many otter’s most distinctive options is the white or cream-colored patch on its throat. This patch varies in form and dimension and can be utilized to determine people.

The enormous river otter has brief, sturdy legs outfitted with webbed toes, which assist in propelling the otter effectively via water. The tail, which is lengthy and muscular, additional enhances its swimming capabilities. Its head is broad and barely flattened, with small, rounded ears and sharp, eager eyes which are positioned excessive on the cranium, permitting for higher visibility whereas swimming.

The place Is The Big River Otter Discovered?

Giant River Otter In The Amazon Rainforest

The vary of the enormous otter covers most of north-central South America, and consists of the Orinoco, Amazon, and Parana basins.

International locations during which the enormous river otter is discovered embrace: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela.


Habitats during which the enormous river otter could also be discovered embrace:

  • Rivers: Particularly throughout the Amazon, Orinoco, and La Plata river methods, large river otters frequent clear, fast-flowing rivers, preferring habitats with minimal human disturbance. It prefers areas with a excessive density of fish and gently-sloped riverbanks with dense vegetation.
  • Creeks and Streams: In addition to main rivers, additionally they thrive in smaller waterways, typically with dense vegetation alongside the banks that present them with shelter and concealment.
  • Lakes and Ponds: Whereas rivers and streams are major habitats, large river otters can be present in bigger nonetheless waters, particularly if these water our bodies have ample meals sources.
  • Swamps and Marshes: In areas of flooded forests and wetlands, these otters discover ample alternative to hunt and set up dens.

The species can be often noticed in agricultural canals, reservoirs of dams, and roadside drainage channels.

The best habitat for the enormous river otter is characterised by clear water with ample meals provide, particularly fish, and minimal human disturbance. As apex predators, their presence in a habitat typically signifies a wholesome ecosystem.

Social Habits

The enormous otter is unusually sociable for a mustelid (member of the weasel household, Mustelidae). It lives in household teams of two to twenty people (sometimes 3 to eight), consisting of a dominant breeding pair, their offspring from a number of litters, and typically unrelated, non-breeding adults.

Household teams are extremely cooperative and members will journey, sleep, play and hunt collectively.

The enormous otter is usually a peaceable species and can normally keep away from battle. Nonetheless, large otters are recognized to indicate aggression when defending a territory towards rival teams.

Territories are marked with urine and secretions from scent glands and are sometimes defended by grownup males.

Big River Otter Life Cycle

Big river otters are born in dens, often called “holts,” that are dug by their mother and father on riverbanks. These dens have underwater entrances, offering a protected surroundings for the weak pups. New child otters are altricial, that means they’re born blind, helpless, and rely totally on their mother and father. Their eyes open after a few month.

After round two months, the younger otters, now lined in fur and extra lively, begin to emerge from the den. They start studying the fundamentals of swimming and looking, though they may proceed to nurse for a number of extra months.

As they strategy their first yr, the otters change into extra expert hunters and begin venturing farther from the household unit. Nonetheless, large river otters are recognized for his or her sturdy household bonds, and adolescents typically stick with their natal group, aiding within the rearing of subsequent litters.

Big river otters attain sexual maturity between two and three years of age. At this level, some could select to go away the household group to discover a mate and set up their very own territories.

As soon as a pair types, they normally mate for all times. The feminine undergoes a gestation interval of roughly 65-70 days, after which she provides delivery to a litter, sometimes consisting of 1 to 5 pups, although litters of as much as eight have been recorded. Each mother and father, together with older siblings, take part in elevating the younger, making the enormous river otter household construction notably cooperative.

Within the wild, large river otters can reside as much as 8-10 years, although some could reside longer beneath optimum situations. All through their lives, they keep social buildings, normally centered round a dominant breeding pair and their offspring from a number of litters.

Big River Otter Predators

Pure predators of the enormous river otter embrace jaguars, caimans, and anacondas.


The enormous otter is a loud animal with a various vary of vocalizations (vocal sounds). A complete of twenty-two distinct sounds utilized by adults and 11 by the younger have been reported.

The sounds vary from quick ‘hah’ barks and explosive snorts to low growls and whistles. The varied vocalizations are thought to speak hazard, aggression, reassurance and curiosity.

Big River Otter Eating regimen

The eating regimen of the enormous otter consists nearly totally of fish, together with cichlids, characins (equivalent to piranha) in addition to catfish.

When there isn’t sufficient fish, the enormous otter can even feed on small caimans, crabs and turtles in addition to anacondas and different snakes. An enormous otter will devour roughly 3kg (7lb) – about 10% – of its physique weight per day.

The enormous otter is understood to hunt alone, in pairs and in teams. It prefers to hunt in shallow water, utilizing its eager imaginative and prescient to find the prey which will be attacked both from above or beneath. The prey is held within the otter’s forepaws and eaten instantly.

Different species competing for meals sources with the enormous otter embrace the neotropical otter (Lontra longicaudis) and varied caimans.

Is The Big Otter Endangered?

The enormous otter is rated ‘Endangered’ by the IUCN.

Extreme attempting to find its pelts till the late Nineteen Seventies brought on the numbers to plummet. The species is now legally protected, however the remaining inhabitants is very fragmented throughout the vary and most subpopulations are small.

The behavioral patterns of the enormous otter make it a straightforward goal for people, and its late breeding age and low cub survival make it notably weak to native extinctions.

The principle threats to the enormous otter embrace:

  • Habitat loss and fragmentation: The river habitat most popular by large otters can be utilized by folks for settlements, mining, logging, damming, transport and tourism.
  • Different human impacts: People have an effect on the enormous otters additionally via air pollution, overfishing, unlawful killing, pathogens unfold by home animals and maintaining otter cubs as pets.

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