Neotropical River Otter

IUCN status: Near Threatened
alias: water dog, taira, water cat, South American river otter, long-tailed otter, little water wolf
predators: caimans, anacondas, jaguars
threats: habitat loss, pollution, mining, poaching
size: 90-136 cm (body 50-79 cm tail 37-57 cm)
weight: 10-14 kg


A large otter with a very, very long tail (hence the latin name),the Neotropical River otter seems to have a large distribution but an unknown population size. It is a versatile otter that can be found in a variety of habitats, ranging from tropical to evergreen forests, creeks to rivers. One sighting in Chile was even made at 3885 m in elevation! Sympatric with the giant otter, it has different habits and preferences – they may use the same rivers but they ignore each other. The Neotropical River otter may be diurnal or nocturnal and hunts fish, crustaceans, sometimes small mammals, birds, reptiles and insects. It is sometimes kept as a pet by fishermen and trained to help them corral fish into nets. Between the 1950s and the 1970s, an extremely high hunting rate nearly drove this little mustelid nearly into extinction when over 30,000 otters were killed every year for their pelts. Now, they are protected in every country in which they occur.