Giant river otter (Pteronura brasiliensis)

About the giant river otter 


The giant river otter is a carnivorous mammal only found in South America. It is the longest member of the weasel (Mustelidae) family, with adults reaching lengths of about two meters. Giant river otters are brown with a yellowish-white patch by their throat, which is distinctive for every animal. They are unique among the weasel family due to their social nature, living in family groups of up to 8 individuals. They are also by far the noisiest of all the weasels. Giant river otters spend much of their time in the water, and have many adaptations that support an aquatic lifestyle, such as long whiskers which help them detect fish underwater, webbed feet, and extremely dense fur which water cannot penetrate. They build their nests on the banks of rivers and lakes, where they sleep, give birth, and take care for their offspring. 

 

Status and threats

The giant otter is listed as Endangered by the IUCN RedList. Decades of illegal hunting for otter pelts,which was at its height in the 1950s and 1960s, caused great declines in the species. The giant otter faces many threats including habitat loss, habitat degradation (i.e. water pollution), loss of prey base due to overfishing, illegal hunting for their pelts, hunting by fishermen who see them as competitors, and increased exposure to diseases, like canine distemper.