Neotropical Otter Pictures, Stock Photos, Images, Illustrations

 
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Neotropical Otter, Lontra longicaudis, Pictures, Stock Photos, Images and Illustrations

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The Neotropical otter is a widely distributed amphibious mammal that inhabits the waterways of Central and South America. It is similar in appearance to the Northern river otter, and is a member of the Mustelidae family, which includes badgers, weasels and otters.

This semi-aquatic mammal's range extends from Mexico to Argentina. They are adapted to a wide variety of habitats, including rivers, streams, lakes, estuaries, swamps, coastal wetlands, rocky shores, canals, drainage ditches, and seasonally flooded agricultural lands. They survive in warm or cool climates, and inhabit all types of forest, from evergreen to rainforest. They have even been spotted at an altitude of 3885 meters in the Andes.

Neotropical otters have long, slender bodies with short legs and a very long, thick tail that tapers evenly to a point. They are able to stand up on their hind legs, using their muscular tails as a kind of third leg to help them balance. Their feet have sharp claws and are webbed for swimming. Their nostrils can be closed while they swim underwater for minutes at a time, hunting for fish or other food. Prominent vibrissae (whiskers) extend from their muzzle and have an important sensory function, as they help otters feel the movement of prey in the water even when it's dark or the water is murky.

Neotropical otters weigh between 5 kg (11 lbs) and 15 kg (33 lbs), with males being 20% larger than females. They measure from 90 cm (35 inches) to 136 cm (54 inches) including the tail, which makes up about a third of their length.

The Neotropical otter's fur is grayish brown to dark brown, with a lighter colored underbody and throat. The lighter shade extends to just below the ears and nose on the muzzle. Their fur has a dense undercoat, which provides warmth in cold water and in the cool air of high elevations. River otters have been observed spending a lot of time grooming themselves, which helps to maintain the insulating qualities of their fur.

 

Neotropical Otter Picture
Picture of neotropical otter or long-tailed otter, Lontra longicaudis, Pantanal, Brazil Picture #: 102815

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Subphylum: Vertebrata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Suborder: Caniformia/Canoidea

Family: Mustelidae/Mustelids

Subfamily: Lutrinae

Genus: Lontra

Specific: longicaudis

Species: Lontra longicaudis

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Neoptropical otters eat fish, amphibians, crayfish, snakes, insects, snails, shellfish, crabs and other prey they can catch in or near the water. Ninety-three percent of Neotropical spraint was found to contain fish, and 78 percent crustaceans. Spraint was often found to include fruit seeds, indicating that Neotropical otters function to disperse fruit species. Neotropical otters use their mouths to catch food, and their paws for swimming, maneuvering, grasping and digging.

Neotropical otters are typically solitary and do not generally travel in groups, with the exception of a mother and pups. Males and females are only together for breeding. Little is known about the amount of range they require. They are mainly diurnal, but where there is human activity, they tend to become nocturnal.

The dens of Neotropical otters (called holts) are generally natural hollows, spaces under fallen trees or rocks, natural caves, or burrows they dig themselves in riverbanks. They also beat down vegetation to create spaces in dense vegetation to serve as a den.

Neotropical otters typically breed in spring, but have been observed to breed throughout the year. Delayed implantation is absent in this species, and gestation takes about 2 months. Males do not have a role in the upbringing of baby otters. Pups open their eyes after 44 days, begin to swim at 2 and 1/2 months, and reach sexual maturity at about 2 years of age. They are presumed to live about 10 or 11 years in the wild or up to 25 years in captivity.

The IUCN lists Neotropical otters as Data Deficient, due to the difficulty of getting reliable population estimates. This is a downgrade in a sense from the Lower Risk/Least Concern designation they had back in 1996. While they have a huge historical range, there is no doubt that they are losing habitat throughout their range. Hunting and poaching are not monitored very carefully, and pollution is increasingly a problem, so it is highly likely their numbers are decreasing.

Taxonomists now put Neotropical otters in the genus Lontra or New World otters. Previously, they were grouped with Old World otters in the genus Lutra. Because some sources use the old classification, Neotropical otters are sometimes archaically described as Lutra longicaudis. Additionally, there are some presumed subspecies of Neotropical river otter. The following list contains Neotropical river otter names that have appeared in taxonomy databases on the Internet. The list is not presumed to be exhaustive, and these names are not necessarily scientifically accepted.

Possible subspecies or alternate Latin names:
Lontra (or archaically Lutra) annectens - Major, 1897; Mexico, Central America
Lontra (or archaically Lutra) enudris - Cuvier, 1823; South America
Lontra (or archaically Lutra) platensis - Waterhouse, 1838
Lontra (or archaically Lutra) incarum

Alternate names: Neotropical River Otter, South American River Otter, La Plata Otter, Brasilian Otter, Long-tailed Otter, Lobito Comun, Lobito de Rio, Gato de Agua, Lobito del Plata, Nutria, Loutre a Longue Queue, Loutre d'Amerique du Sud, Loutre du Bresil, Loutre Neotropicale, Loutre de Rio, Sudamerikanischer Fischotter

© Neotropical otter information assembled from on-line sources by Kevin Miller on June 13, 2008 for Seapics.com.

http://www.otterjoy.com/otterinfo/lontra_longicaudis.html

http://www.otterspecialistgroup.org/Species/Lontra_longicaudis.html

http://www.lioncrusher.com/animal.asp?animal=177

http://www.legislation.gov.hk/blis_ind.nsf/da97f6a8ed400207482564820006b580/987c7fbe039703b44825674e000c5acf?OpenDocument