The Guianas are one of the last real strongholds for the species, which also enjoys modest numbers — and significant protection — in the Peruvian Amazonian basin. One full-year study of giant otter scats in Amazonian Brazil found fish present in all fecal samples. [68] The animal's relatively late sexual maturity and complex social life makes hunting especially disastrous.[12][69][70]. [26] Unique markings of white or cream fur color the throat and under the chin, allow individuals to be identified from birth. [63] Pups are more vulnerable, and may be taken by caiman and other large predators,[50] although adults are constantly mindful of stray young, and will harass and fight off possible predators. [12] Total population numbers are difficult to estimate. Researchers emphasize that even between groups, conflict avoidance is generally adopted. [31] Concern over this endangered species has since generated a body of research. Basin and arid areas to semiarid regions, to semiarid regions, to semiarid regions, to forested. [51], The longest documented giant otter lifespan in the wild is eight years. To notify the family of their presence, otters sharply scream and emerge from the water. [2] Given local extinctions, the species' range has become discontinuous. It plays an important role in the mythology of the Achuar people, where giant otters are seen as a form of the tsunki, or water spirits: they are a sort of "water people" who feed on fish. The giant otter is the longest of the otter species but shares a similar weight with the sea otter. Unfortunately it is already extinct in Uruguay and Argentina. 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. The survival of the giant otter populations in the Guianas is essential to the survival of this endangered species in South America. An IUCN study in 2006 suggested 1,000 to 5,000 otters remain. As one the Amazon forest’s top predators, along with the jaguar, puma, caiman and anaconda, the giant river otter is the largest member of the weasel family (Mustelidae). [61] Giant otters may adopt preferred locations perennially, often on high ground. [36] The species has likely been extirpated from southern Brazil, but in the west of the country, decreased hunting pressure in the critical Pantanal has led to very successful recolonization; an estimate suggests 1,000 or more animals in the region. Females appear to give birth year round, although in the wild, births may peak during the dry season. One report found between three and eight campsites, clustered around feeding areas. The species was so thoroughly decimated, the number dropped to just 12 in 1971. © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, © 2015- Statistics show between 1959 and 1969 Amazonian Brazil alone accounted for 1,000 to 3,000 pelts annually. Here’s why. [11] Later gene sequencing research on the mustelids, from 2005, places the divergence of the giant otter somewhat later, between five and 11 million years ago; the corresponding phylogenetic tree locates the Lontra divergence first among otter genera, and Pteronura second, although divergence ranges overlap.[19]. Giant otters mate in the water and give birth to 2 or 3 pups in August to October. They tend to set up their nests in the banks of slow moving rivers and lakes as this is safer for their young. It is one of the most endangered mammal species in the neotropics. "Giant otter" translates literally as nutria gigante and lontra gigante in Spanish and Portuguese, respectively. The giant otter or giant river otter[3] [53] The giant otter seems to be opportunistic, taking whatever species are most locally abundant. All otters produce vocalizations, but by frequency and volume, the giant otter may be the most vocal. [71] Specific threats from human industry include unsustainable mahogany logging in parts of the giant otter range,[68] and concentrations of mercury in its diet of fish, a byproduct of gold mining. [2] In the former, investigation has shown thinly distributed population remnants. It lives in the rivers and swamps of tropical South America, forming noisy family groups that often hunt together. Their diet in the wild is crustaceans, mollusks, and small fish. The territories would never coincide or overlap with territories that belong to the other groups. Otters are found on every single continent in the world except for Australia and Antarctica. Giant Otter – This species is found throughout the Amazon River basin in South America. Let us know on the Wide Open Pets Facebook page! The behavior of the otter. [37] Giant Otters often baby sit for one another. [57] In addition, solitary animals and young may be vulnerable to attacks by the jaguar, cougar, and anaconda, but this is based on historical reports, not direct observation. [83] The indigenous Kichwa peoples from Amazonian Peru believed in a world of water where Yaku runa reigned as mother of the water and was charged with caring for fish and animals. [22] [46][47] Research over five years on a breeding pair at the Cali Zoo in Colombia found the average interval between litters was six to seven months, but as short as 77 days when the previous litter did not survive. If you do not live in a warm climate, supplementary heat is necessary for land and water. [40] Population densities varied with a high of 1.2/km2 (3.1/sq mi) reported in Suriname and with a low of 0.154/km2 (0.40/sq mi) found in Guyana. This South American otter is the world's largest, at some 6 feet long. Most otters live in dens — built by other animals, such as beavers — that are dug into the ground that have many channels and dry inner chambers. It … Among the Achuar people, they are known as wankanim,[7] and among the Sanumá as hadami. Giant otters live in tight knit family groups that are dominated by a breeding pair, the rest of the group consists of their offspring up until the age of reproduction. [67], The animal faces a variety of critical threats. Male otters disperse from such family groups more often than females. Giant otters live in lakes and slow-moving rivers in forested areas. Main navigation. The animal's well-muscled tail can add a further 70 cm (28 in) to the total body length. The sea otter, however, rarely comes ashore, according to the San Diego Zoo. [82] A Ticuna legend has it that the giant otter exchanged places with the jaguar: the story says jaguar formerly lived in the water and the giant otter came to the land only to eat. [66] Its smaller prey, different denning habits, and different preferred water types also reduce interaction.[57]. The giant otter lives in South America and its population is concentrated along the shores of the Amazon. The giant otter or giant river otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) is a South American carnivorous mammal. This article was originally published March 11, 2020. The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis), also known as the northern river otter or common otter, is a semiaquatic mammal endemic to the North American continent found in and along its waterways and coasts. Distribution of … Its distribution has been greatly reduced and is now discontinuous. [48] Males actively participate in rearing cubs and family cohesion is strong;[49] older, juvenile siblings also participate in rearing, although in the weeks immediately after birth, they may temporarily leave the group. Giant otters in the wild can eat caiman, piranhas, and anacondas. [27] The giant otter seems to choose clear, black waters with rocky or sandy bottoms over silty, saline, and white waters. It is the noisiest otter species, and distinct vocalizations have been documented that indicate alarm, aggression, and reassurance. [78][79] Bolivia designated wetlands larger than the size of Switzerland as a freshwater protected area in 2001; these are also home to the giant otter. Although generally peaceful, the species is territorial, and aggression has been observed between groups. [1] P. b. brasiliensis is distributed across the north of the giant otter range, including the Orinoco, Amazon, and Guianas river systems; to the south, P. b. paraguensis has been suggested in Paraguay, Uruguay, southern Brazil, and northern Argentina,[12] although it may be extinct in the last three of these four. Comes ashore, according to the San Diego Zoo noted to feed on piranha, and the! 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