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Spotted-Necked Otters

CONSERVATION STATUS : NEAR THREATENED
COMMON EXTINCT
Classification:

Order: Carnivora
Genus & Species: Hydrictis maculicollis
Family: Mustelidae

Range:

The spotted-necked otter has a sub-Saharan distribution stretching from Guinea Bissau in the west to south-west Ethiopia in the east, and southwards as far as eastern South Africa.

Habitat:

Spotted-necked otters prefer wetlands and freshwater habitats that are permanent with high fish densities. As visual hunters, they need water that is clear and unpolluted to hunt for small and medium sized fish. They are found in great lakes, streams, and rivers and at altitudes up to 2,500 meters (8,200 feet). They live in dens that are found near these water sources in areas that have reeds, grasses, bushes, and large rocks for cover.

Activity:

Primarily diurnal, but there have been reports of nocturnal activity in areas of their range with appropriate moonlight (nocturnal activity increases with full moons). Spotted-necked otters are most active in the morning and late afternoon.

Longevity:

Approximately 20 years in captivity.

Description:

They are covered with a very dense fur (about 6.5 times as thick as dogs’ fur). This dense coat is used for thermo-insulation, keeping them warm by trapping air within it. Their heads are broad with short muzzles. They have small rounded ears and a hairless nose. The lower jaw is adapted for no side-to-side chewing movement and their teeth are small and specialized for catching fish.

Ecology, Adaptations, Etc:

While typically a solitary species, spotted-necked otters may be found in small family groups depending on the time year. Males have a large home-range of up to 10 square miles that contains multiple females. The core home-range of both males and females is just under 2.5 square miles. They are not an overly territorial species. At times, groups of otters can come together for several hours or days if resources allow. They have been observed foraging as groups, but they don’t hunt cooperatively. Otters communicate vocally with calls ranging from a harsh meow that acts as a contact call to a high-pitched squawking distress call.