They den by burrowing into banks or under fallen logs, and establish a home territory that they will aggressively defend. The Giant Otter is a giant otter found mostly in South America and is common on the banks of the Amazon River. The animal's well-muscled tail can add a further 70 cm (28 in) to the total body length. Pteronura brasiliensis. The giant otter is an especially noisy animal, with a complex repertoire of vocalizations. 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. An average giant otter will weigh between 22 and 32kg (49-71lbs).. The giant river otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) is a beautiful animal adapted for an amphibious lifestyle. The Giant otter, living in South America, and the largest of the otters in its total length, is the cousin of the sea and river otters in North America, Europe and Africa. [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. [16] (The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) is the fourth Lontra member.) [56] In some cases, supposed cooperative hunting may be incidental, a result of group members fishing individually in close proximity; truly coordinated hunting may only occur where the prey cannot be taken by a single giant otter, such as with small anacondas and juvenile black caiman. In seasonally flooded areas, the giant otter may abandon campsites during the wet season, dispersing to flooded forests in search of prey. Two river dolphins, the tucuxi and boto, might potentially compete with the giant otter, but different spatial use and dietary preferences suggest minimal overlap. [12] (Larger figures may reflect two or three family groups temporarily feeding together. The giant otter is native only to the Amazon, Orinoco, and La Plata river systems in South America. A study of five indigenous communities in Colombia suggests native attitudes toward the animal are a threat: the otters are often viewed as a nuisance that interferes with fishing, and are sometimes killed. Giant River Otter. When these jaguars encroach on their space, the otters fight back. [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. Giant river otters are very sociable and live in families of between 3 – 10 individuals that hunt together. It lives exclusively in the river systems of the Amazon, Orinoco and La Plata. Like most other otter species, giant otters come ashore to give birth. In Bolivia … [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. [45], Suriname still has significant forest cover and an extensive system of protected areas, much of which protects the giant otter. [68] While still present in a number of north-central countries, giant otter populations are under considerable stress. [77] In a report for World Wildlife Fund in 2002, Duplaix was emphatic about the importance of Suriname and the other Guianas:[58] .mw-parser-output .templatequote{overflow:hidden;margin:1em 0;padding:0 40px}.mw-parser-output .templatequote .templatequotecite{line-height:1.5em;text-align:left;padding-left:1.6em;margin-top:0}. The giant otter is clearly distinguished from other otters by morphological and behavioural characteristics. It is the longest member of the Mustelidae, or weasel family, a globally successful group of predators, reaching up to 1.7 metres (5.6 ft). [22] [33] An analysis published in 2014 cataloged 22 distinct types of vocalization in adults and 11 in neonates. The giant otter can grow to more than 6 feet (2 meters) long and 70 pounds (32 kg), nearly twice as large as its American counterparts. [50], The giant otter is very sensitive to human activity when rearing its young. Methods of Collecting Food. The giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) is an endangered semi-aquatic carnivore of South America. [52] It feeds mainly on fish, including cichlids, characins (such as piranha), and catfish. The map above illustrates potential giant otter range. Stable Threatened Endangered. Young otters remain in the den for a month but grow up quickly. [2] In the former, investigation has shown thinly distributed population remnants. One report suggests maximum areas 28 m (92 ft) long and 15 m (49 ft) wide, well-marked by scent glands, urine, and feces to signal territory. The largest of the Mustelidae family: This family of mammals includes Weasels, River Otters, Martins, and Ferrets. [58] Duplaix identified two critical factors in habitat selection: food abundance, which appears to positively correlate to shallow water, and low sloping banks with good cover and easy access to preferred water types. [46] Study of captive specimens has found only males initiate copulation. This makes it easier for the adults to catch enough fish for the growing young, and for the pups to learn how to catch fish. [23] The fur is extremely dense, so much so that water cannot penetrate to the skin. [6] All three names are in use in South America, with a number of regional variations. Newborn pups squeak to elicit attention, while older young whine and wail when they begin to participate in group activities. [67], The animal faces a variety of critical threats. The giant otter is the South American cousin to the sea and river otters of North America, as well as those of Europe and Africa. The Giant River Otter is a sociable creature who lives in families of 3-10 members, banding together to protect themselves and their territories. It lives in the rivers and swamps of tropical South America, forming … Statistics show between 1959 and 1969 Amazonian Brazil alone accounted for 1,000 to 3,000 pelts annually. The largest of the Mustelidae family: This family of mammals includes Weasels, River Otters, Martins, and Ferrets. [72][73] Water pollution from mining, fossil fuel extraction, and agriculture is a serious danger; concentrations of pesticides and other chemicals are magnified at each step in the food chain, and can poison top predators such as the giant otter. The giant otter ranges across north-central South America; it lives mostly in and along the Amazon River and in the Pantanal. Exhibit Range of the Jaguar. The giant river otter is the longest member of the Mustelidae or weasel family. To reiterate that last point here is some videos of a group of otters against a caiman , pestering a jaguar , and a lone otter chilling with some caimans . [7] The Bororó people have a legend on the origin of tobacco smoking: those who used the leaf improperly by swallowing it were punished by being transformed into giant otters; the Bororo also associate the giant otter with fish and with fire. [81], In Suriname, the giant otter is not a traditional prey species for human hunters, which affords some protection. Sea otters eat about 25% to 30% of their weight. [54] If fish are unavailable, it will also take crabs, snakes, and even small caimans and anacondas. The entire group, including nonreproductive adults, which are usually older siblings to that year's pups, collaborates to catch enough fish for the young. [42][43] Within groups, the animals are extremely peaceful and cooperative. It is also an arguably more essential reminder to not assume that if something is endearing, it is also harmless. [11], The otters form the subfamily Lutrinae within the mustelids and the giant otter is the only member of the genus Pteronura. It is both the world’s largest otter and largest member of the mustelid family, reaching up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) in length. It constructs extensive campsites close to feeding areas, clearing large amounts of vegetation. The giant river otter is a great reminder that lovability can come in all sizes. [4] They are weaned by nine months and begin hunting successfully soon after. [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. Groenendijk J., N. Duplaix (2015) Giant Otter Bibliography. [5] In Spanish, river wolf (Spanish: lobo de río) and water dog (Spanish: perro de agua) are used occasionally (though the latter also refers to several different animals) and may have been more common in the reports of explorers in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Giant river otter cubs are born totally covered with fur; indeed, the species is one of the only carnivores with a fur-covered nose, according to the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. Giant Otter – Pteronura brasiliensis Description. It is both the world’s largest otter and largest member of the mustelid family, reaching up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) in length. Giant Otter's velvet pellets have attracted hunters whose numbers have dropped significantly. © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, © 2015- In Bolivia … Highly endangered 50 pound river otter had … Giant Otter's velvet pellets have attracted hunters whose numbers have dropped significantly. [68][75], In 2006, most of this species lived in the Brazilian Amazon and its bordering areas. Females are smaller at 1-1.5m (3.3-4.9ft). Females retreat to their underground dens and deliver litters of one to six young. [2] Populations in Bolivia were once widespread but the country became a "black spot" on distribution maps after poaching between the 1940s and 1970s; a relatively healthy, but still small, population of 350 was estimated in the country in 2002. An adult North American river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 30.9 lb). The family members communicate vocally with a wide variation of calls. The entire tour was very comfortable and the experience was really amazing. Bibliography. As human activity expands, giant otter home ranges become increasingly isolated. [41] While not rare among large predators in general, intraspecific aggression is uncommon among otter species; Ribas and Mourão suggest a correlation to the animal's sociability, which is also rare among other otters. This South American otter is … [44], Giant otters build dens, which are holes dug into riverbanks, usually with multiple entrances and multiple chambers inside. "Giant otter" translates literally as nutria gigante and lontra gigante in Spanish and Portuguese, respectively. The largest member of the weasel family, the Giant River Otter. The fact that it is exclusively active during the day further suggests its eyesight should be strong, to aid in hunting and predator avoidance. A rare animal with numbers last estimated to be under 5,000 in the wild at the turn of the century. Incorrect descriptions of the species have led to multiple synonyms (the latter subspecies is often P. b. paranensis in the literature). Reaching up to 1.8 metres-long, it's the longest otter worldwide and tends to live in family groups of up to fifteen individuals. Females appear to give birth year round, although in the wild, births may peak during the dry season. Prey species found were also sedentary, generally swimming only short distances, which may aid the giant otter in predation. The survival of the giant otter populations in the Guianas is essential to the survival of this endangered species in South America. Giant otter muzzles are short and sloping and give the head a ball-shaped appearance. Find out more about this beautiful mammal. We went for 4 day 3 night trip with Tambopata Giant Otter Expeditions during 2019 November after considering few other travel agencies in Puerto Maldonado. Across the world, there are thirteen known species of otter. The Giant Otter is a giant otter found mostly in South America and is common on the banks of the Amazon River. [46] Pups open their eyes in their fourth week, begin walking in their fifth, and are able to swim confidently between 12 and 14 weeks old. Animal Facts Scientific Name. However, there are several emerging threats to this sensitive species. [45], Details of giant otter reproduction and life cycle are scarce, and captive animals have provided much of the information. The threat has been exacerbated by the otters' relative fearlessness and tendency to approach human beings. Giant River Otter. The giant otter is the largest of all the otter species. The giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis), known through much of its range as the 'river wolf', is one of South America's top carnivores and is the largest of the otter species in terms of total length.The muscular, sinuous body is covered with velvety, brown fur, which is dense and water-repellent. May 31, 2013 - A gathered assortment of Pteronura Brasiliensis, the Giant River Otter. An adult North American river otter can weigh between 5.0 and 14 kg (11.0 and 30.9 lb). An analysis of dry season range size for three otter groups in Ecuador found areas between 0.45 and 2.79 square kilometres (0.17 and 1.08 sq mi). [39] One tentative theory for the development of sociality in mustelids is that locally abundant, but unpredictably dispersed, and prey causes groups to form. They dwell in flooded forests, slow moving rivers, streams, lakes and swamps. Even when told of the importance of the species to ecosystems and the danger of extinction, interviewees showed little interest in continuing to coexist with the species. Fish are supplemented by crustaceans, snakes, and other river creatures. One report found between three and eight campsites, clustered around feeding areas. All group members may aggressively charge intruders, including boats with humans in them. River otters eat 15% to 20% of their total body weight each day. 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. [17] Giant otter fossil remains have been recovered from a cave in the Brazilian Mato Grosso. )[71] The animal sometimes drowns in nets set across rivers and machete attacks by fishermen have been noted, according to Duplaix, but "tolerance is the rule" in Suriname. No institution, for example, has successfully raised giant otter cubs unless parents were provided sufficient privacy measures; the stress caused by human visual and acoustic interference can lead to neglect, abuse and infanticide, as well as decreased lactation. Its distribution has been greatly reduced and is now discontinuous. When a caiman attacks the otter cubs, the whole family comes together to defend them. They give birth between August and September, and the young pups emerge for the first time in October and November, which are the months of lowest water and fish concentrations in the dwindling lakes and channels are at their peak. 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