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Neotropical Otter (Lontra longicaudis)

  • Neotropical Otter (Lontra longicaudis)

    Common Name/s: Neotropical Otter  
    Scientific name: Lontra longicaudis
    Brazilian common name/s: Lontra

    Quick facts (average values with minimum and maximum in parenthesis)

    Body length (cm): 51(36-66)a Tail (cm):  54(37-84) a Diet: Carnivorous
    Weight (kg): (5-15) a Height (cm):  Home range (km2): 
    Litter size: 
    (1-5) a Gestation (days): 56 a Longevity (years): 
    Social structure: Solitary or breeding pairs
    Activity pattern: Diurnal and crepuscular a

    a (Lariviere 1999)

    Physical description
    The coat is short and dense, with a brownish colouration. They have small ears and nostrils that can be closed when the animal dives. The tail is muscular and flexible and is used as a rudder during turns in the water. The legs are short and their feet are webbed.

    Habitat and Ecology
    This species occurs from Mexico throughout Central and South America to northern Argentina. Neotropical Otters occupy various types of aquatic environments, freshwater and marine (Lariviere 1999). They are solitary animals and are rarely found in pairs.
    The diet consists mainly of fish, and also includes crustaceans, amphibians, mammals, insects and birds. They are opportunistic predators and their diet varies with prey availability and habitat (Gallo-Reynoso et al. 2008; Gora et al. 2003; Pardini 1998; Perini et al. 2009).

    Threats and Conservation
    The species is heavily hunted, both for trade and in response to alleged predation of commercially valuable fish stocks. This coupled with habitat destruction (Michalski & Peres 2005) and pollution of water (Josef et al. 2008; Waldemarin & Alvares 2008) seriously threatens their populations. It is classified by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as data deficient and by the Brazilian environment agency (IBAMA), as threatened with extinction.

    Online links
    IUCN redlist ( presents a summary of current knowledge on distribution and conservation status

    IUCN Otter Specialist Group -

    The world"s chief body of scientific and practical expertise on the status and conservation of all otter species

    IUCN OSG Bulletin –

    Freely available online peer reviewed publications published by the IUCN Otter Specialist Group

    Gallo-Reynoso, J. P., Ramos-Rosas, N. N., & Rangel-Aguilar, O. (2008). Aquatic bird predation by neotropical river otter (Lontra longicaudis annectens), at Rio Yaqui, Sonora, Mexico. Revista Mexicana de Biodiversidad, 79, 275-279.

    Gora, M., Carpaneto, G. M., & Ottino, P. (2003). Spatial distribution and diet of the Neotropical otter Lontra longicaudis in the Ibera Lake (northern Argentina). Acta Theriologica, 48, 495-504.

    Josef, C. F., Adriano, L. R., De Franca, E. J., De Carvalho, G. G. A., & Ferreira, J. R. (2008). Determination of Hg and diet identification in otter (Lontra longicaudis) feces. Environmental Pollution, 152, 592-596.

    Lariviere, S. (1999). Lontra longicaudis. Mammalian Species, 609, 1–5.

    Michalski, F., & Peres, C. A. (2005). Anthropogenic determinants of primate and carnivore local extinctions in a fragmented forest landscape of southern Amazonia. Biological Conservation, 124, 383-396.

    Pardini, R. (1998). Feeding ecology of the neotropical river otter Lontra longicaudis in an Atlantic Forest stream, south-eastern Brazil. Journal of Zoology, 245, 385-391.

    Perini, A. A., Vieira, E. M., & Schulz, U. H. (2009). Evaluation of methods used for diet analysis of the neotropical otter Lontra longicaudis (Carnivore, Mustelidae) based on spraints. Mammalian Biology, 74, 232-237.

    Waldemarin, H. F., & Alvares, R. (2008). Lontra longicaudis. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.2. <>, , Downloaded on 06 July 2010.

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