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Habitat degradation and loss is the greatest current threat. Limits on the number of tourists at any one time, fishing prohibitions, and a minimum safe distance of 50 metres (164 ft) are proposed to offer further protection. More recently, habitat destruction and degradation have become the principal dangers, and a further reduction of 50% is expected in giant otter numbers within the 20 years after 2004 (about the span of three generations of giant otters). [23] The fur is extremely dense, so much so that water cannot penetrate to the skin. You can also find the Neotropical Otter and the Marine Otter in South America. This makes it easier for the adults to catch enough fish for the growing young, and for the pups to learn how to catch fish. It is the longest member of the weasel family, Mustelidae, a globally successful group of predators, reaching up to 1.7 metres (5.6 ft). The IUCN lists Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela as current range countries. The giant river otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) is a beautiful animal adapted for an amphibious lifestyle. [36] The species has likely been extirpated from southern Brazil, but in the west of the country, decreased hunting pressure in the critical Pantanal has led to very successful recolonization; an estimate suggests 1,000 or more animals in the region. In addition to being huge, giant river otters also have a (relatively) huge vocabulary. Utreras[60] presumed habitat requirements and availability would differ dramatically in the rainy season: estimating range sizes of 1.98 to as much as 19.55 square kilometres (0.76 to 7.55 sq miles) for the groups. Newborn pups squeak to elicit attention, while older young whine and wail when they begin to participate in group activities. Males are between 1.5 and 1.7 m (4.9 and 5.6 ft) in length from head to tail and females between 1 and 1.5 m (3.3 and 4.9 ft). These sleek, streamlined, aquatic mammals have short legs, semi-retractable claws, and nostrils and ears that close in the water. It constructs extensive campsites close to feeding areas, clearing large amounts of vegetation. [42][43] Within groups, the animals are extremely peaceful and cooperative. The family members communicate vocally with a wide variation of calls. [8][9] The genus name, Pteronura, is derived from the Ancient Greek words pteron/πτερόν (feather or wing) and oura/οὐρά (tail),[10] a reference to its distinctive, wing-like tail. [72][73] Water pollution from mining, fossil fuel extraction, and agriculture is a serious danger; concentrations of pesticides and other chemicals are magnified at each step in the food chain, and can poison top predators such as the giant otter. When a caiman attacks the otter cubs, the whole family comes together to defend them. Giant Otters’ Main Characteristics. An IUCN study in 2006 suggested 1,000 to 5,000 otters remain. [76] Duplaix returned to the country in 2000 and found the giant otter still present on the Kaburi Creek, a "jewel" of biodiversity, although increased human presence and land use suggests, sooner or later, the species may not be able to find suitable habitat for campsites. [2] A significant population lives in the wetlands of the central Araguaia River, and in particular within Cantão State Park, which, with its 843 oxbow lakes and extensive flooded forests and marshlands, is one of the best habitat patches for this species in Brazil. Appearance. [7] The Bororó people have a legend on the origin of tobacco smoking: those who used the leaf improperly by swallowing it were punished by being transformed into giant otters; the Bororo also associate the giant otter with fish and with fire. See more ideas about Giant river otter, Otters, River otter. It lives in the rivers and swamps of tropical South America, forming … [2] Four specific vegetation types occur on one important creek in Suriname: riverbank high forest, floodable mixed marsh and high swamp forest, floodable low marsh forest, and grass islands and floating meadows within open areas of the creek itself. )[36] The groups are strongly cohesive: the otters sleep, play, travel, and feed together. A rare animal with numbers last estimated to be under 5,000 in the wild at the turn of the century. Find the perfect Giant River Otter stock photos and editorial news pictures from Getty Images. Schoolchildren, however, had a more positive impression of the animal. [50] Other causes of death include accidents, gastroenteritis, infanticide, and epileptic seizures. Giant River Otter: That's One Big Otter! [23][29], The species possesses 2n = 38 chromosomes.[30]. Giant Otters are found in the Rainforests of South America. The giant otter is clearly distinguished from other otters by morphological and behavioural characteristics. It lives exclusively in the river systems of the Amazon, Orinoco and La Plata. The IUCN listed the giant otter as "endangered" in 1999; it had been considered "vulnerable" under all previous listings from 1982 when sufficient data had first become available. Giant Otter is relatively territorial and peaceful but has also been found to be aggressive in some groups of this species. It is the longest member of the Mustelidae, or weasel family, a globally successful group of predators, reaching up to 1.7 metres (5.6 ft). Giant River Otter Fun Facts. Giant Otter – Pteronura brasiliensis Description. [58] Otters do not visit or mark every site daily, but usually patrol all of them, often by a pair of otters in the morning. Incorrect descriptions of the species have led to multiple synonyms (the latter subspecies is often P. b. paranensis in the literature). [58], Local people sometimes take pups for the exotic pet trade or as pets for themselves, but the animal rapidly grows to become unmanageable. [81], In Suriname, the giant otter is not a traditional prey species for human hunters, which affords some protection. They den by burrowing into banks or under fallen logs, and establish a home territory that they will aggressively defend. In Cantão State Park, otters dig their reproductive dens on the shores of oxbow lakes starting around July, when waters are already quite low. Across the world, there are thirteen known species of otter. They hunt alone or in groups, sometimes using coordinated efforts, and must be successful often to meet their daily intake quota. One full-year study of giant otter scats in Amazonian Brazil found fish present in all fecal samples. [4] They are weaned by nine months and begin hunting successfully soon after. [37] Giant River Otters can grow to 6 and a half feet in length and weigh 75 pounds. [58] It occurs in freshwater rivers and streams, which generally flood seasonally. Their long tail may add as much as 70cm (28in) to this body length. [28], At the time of Carter and Rosas' writing, vision had not been directly studied, but field observations show the animal primarily hunts by sight; above water, it is able to recognize observers at great distances. The groups are centered on a dominant breeding pair and are extremely cohesive and cooperative. Other threats to the giant otter include conflict with fishermen, who often view the species as a nuisance (see below). The giant river otter is the longest member of the Mustelidae or weasel family. Giant River Otters are huge aquatic mammals that live in the Amazon watershed, as well as many other rivers in the South American rainforest. "Giant otter" translates literally as nutria gigante and lontra gigante in Spanish and Portuguese, respectively. Gymnotids, such as the electric eel, and the large silurid catfish are among aquatic competitors. The aims of the Group, as set out by IUCN, are to: 1. The Giant River Otter is a sociable creature who lives in families of 3-10 members, banding together to protect themselves and their territories. At more than 50 pounds and five feet long each, giant river otters are the largest freshwater otters in the world. Atypical of mustelids, the giant otter is a social species, with family groups typically supporting three to eight members. The giant river otter has become rare or nonexistent over most of its range. [37] In another instance in Brazil, a carcass was found with clear indications of violent assault by other otters, including bites to the snout and genitals, an attack pattern similar to that exhibited by captive animals. It is the noisiest otter species, and distinct vocalizations have been documented that indicate alarm, aggressiveness, and reassurance. 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