[82], In Suriname, the giant otter is not a traditional prey species for human hunters, which affords some protection. It is interesting that human/giant otter conflict is … Males and females do not vary in size, which is usually between 150 and 180 cm long, but they do vary in weight: while males weigh between 26 and 32 kg, females, somewhat lighter, range between 22 and 26 kg. Giant Otter This South American otter is the world's largest, at some 6 feet long. Females appear to give birth year round, although in the wild, births may peak during the dry season. [25] The nose (or rhinarium) is completely covered in fur, with only the two slit-like nostrils visible. Published: 14:05 EST, 19 July 2013 | … The giant otter is clearly distinguished from other otters by morphological and behavioural characteristics. Giant otters are among the premium animals, available only through purchasing diamonds with real money. This species does not store food. The giant otter's highly sensitive whiskers (vibrissae) allow the animal to track changes in water pressure and currents, which aids in detecting prey. Two of them were gigantic: Sivaonyx hendeyi was an otter the size of a wolf (around 40 kg) and Plesiogulo aff. Iceberg guide: how they form, where they’re found, and how they’re used by wildlife, Corvids of the UK: how to identify, where to see them, and whether they are intelligent, Cougar guide: how to identify, diet and habitat, Mink or otter? [78] In a report for World Wildlife Fund in 2002, Duplaix was emphatic about the importance of Suriname and the other Guianas:[59] .mw-parser-output .templatequote{overflow:hidden;margin:1em 0;padding:0 40px}.mw-parser-output .templatequote .templatequotecite{line-height:1.5em;text-align:left;padding-left:1.6em;margin-top:0}. The giant river otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) is the largest member of the mustelid family, which includes otters, weasels, and ferrets, and are by far the loudest member of the group.Giant river otters are very sociable and live in families of between 3-10 individuals that hunt together. Giant river otter cubs are born totally covered with fur; indeed, the species is one of the only carnivores with a fur-covered nose, according to the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. Schenck et al., who undertook extensive fieldwork in Peru in the 1990s, suggest specific "no-go" zones where the species is most frequently observed, offset by observation towers and platforms to allow viewing. The species is threatened by habitat contamination and degradation, overfishing of their prey and conflicts with fishermen, infrastructure such as roads and hydroelectric dams, and climate change. [59] Duplaix identified two critical factors in habitat selection: food abundance, which appears to positively correlate to shallow water, and low sloping banks with good cover and easy access to preferred water types. Try 3 issues of BBC Wildlife Magazine for just £5! By entering your details, you are agreeing to Discover Wildlife terms and conditions and privacy policy. [69] The animal's relatively late sexual maturity and complex social life makes hunting especially disastrous.[13][70][71]. The giant otter or giant river otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) is a South American carnivorous mammal.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). [65] One difference in behavior was seen in the country in 2002: the normally inquisitive giant otters showed "active avoidance behavior with visible panic" when boats appeared. This species is the largest among all the species of otters in the world, (sea otters , with their more compact body, can weigh considerably more).The males reach a total length of 1.5 to 1.8 m and a weight between 26 and 32 kg.As for females they usually measure 1.5 to 1.7 m in length and can weigh between 22 and 26 kg. Depending on how you measure it, this species may or may not be the largest otter. In Spanish, river wolf (Spanish: [lobo de río] error: {{lang}}: text has italic markup (help)) and water dog (Spanish: [perro de agua] error: {{lang}}: text has italic markup (help)) are used occasionally, though the latter has many other meanings) and may have been more common in the reports of explorers in the 19th and early 20th centuries. [47], The giant otter is an apex predator, and its population status reflects the overall health of riverine ecosystems. [48] Females have a gestation period of 65 to 70 days, giving birth to one to five pups, with an average of two. )[72] The animal sometimes drowns in nets set across rivers and machete attacks by fishermen have been noted, according to Duplaix, but "tolerance is the rule" in Suriname. Distribution. 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). It is both the world’s largest otter and largest member of the mustelid family, reaching up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) in length. Native to South America the Giant Otter is the longest member of the Mustelidae (weasel) family, growing up to a rather giant length of 5.6ft. The Otter size isn't twice as big, they'd be 68lbs to the 45lbs of the Cougar but again, you're going off of 3 specimen only which is a very small sample size and I don't know if one was an outlier or not. Average group size in Manu is about 6, with the largest consisting of 14 members, in Cocha Salvador. The co-expansion of otter and human populations accounts for most encounters gone wrong. Group sizes are anywhere from two to 20 members, but likely average between four and eight. Do giant otters live in a group? The giant otter seems to choose clear, black waters with rocky or sandy bottoms over silty, saline, and white waters. “We believe that that Northern Bolivia is an interesting habitat for the giant otter population because it is so isolated from humans. This species is the largest among all the species of otters in the world, (sea otters , with their more compact body, can weigh considerably more).The males reach a total length of 1.5 to 1.8 m and a weight between 26 and 32 kg.As for females they usually measure 1.5 to 1.7 m in length and can weigh between 22 and 26 kg. Sivaonyx hendeyi is a giant, bunodont otter that has high and round cusps on the premolars and low and round molars. Even when told of the importance of the species to ecosystems and the danger of extinction, interviewees showed little interest in continuing to coexist with the species. 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). IOSF was set up to protect and help the 13 species of otter worldwide through a combination of compassion and science. Find out more in our guide to the otters of the world. You can unsubscribe at any time. Giant Otters’ Main Characteristics. Jeff Orkin, PhD — Co-Founder / CEO Jeff has been developing systems to understand human behavior and language for over 20 years. Giant Otters typically live in … The giant otter is a highly social animal and lives in extended family groups. It is regulated internationally under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES): all trade in specimens and parts is illegal. The giant otter subsists almost exclusively on a diet of fish, particularly characins and catfish, but may also eat crabs, turtles, snakes and small caiman. Giant otters in the wild can eat caiman, piranhas, and anacondas. [78] (One researcher has suggested the giant otter is hunted only in desperation due to its horrible taste. Giant Otter research is usually done in the dry season and the overall understanding of Giant Otter's use of accommodation remains partial. They noted that the species may be the basal divergence among the otters or fall outside of them altogether, having split even before other mustelids, such as the ermine, polecat, and mink. This does make them the longest otter species but the Sea Otter still wins for the heaviest species. brasiliensis. Giant otters served as Yaku runa's canoes. [72] A number of restrictions on land use and human intrusion are required to properly maintain wild populations. [40] One tentative theory for the development of sociality in mustelids is that locally abundant, but unpredictably dispersed, and prey causes groups to form. While revealing of the affection held for the animals, the seizure was a profound blow to the breeding pair, which went on to lose their territory to competitors. [13] Total population numbers are difficult to estimate. The giant otter can grow to more than 6 feet (2 meters) long and 70 pounds (32 kg), nearly twice as large as its American counterparts. [2] In the former, investigation has shown thinly distributed population remnants. The park harbors many endangered plants and animals, including the giant otter, and holds the world record for mammal diversity. Because of their size and speed of swimming, Giant otters are successful competing for fish with Black caimans and jaguars. An IUCN study in 2006 suggested 1,000 to 5,000 otters remain. An analysis of dry season range size for three otter groups in Ecuador found areas between 0.45 and 2.79 square kilometres (0.17 and 1.08 sq mi). Two otters would face a guy like Jon Jones on the one hand and a ~1400lbs human unable to move without a crane on the other hand. Fish remains were of medium-sized species that seem to prefer relatively shallow water, to the advantage of the probably visually oriented giant otter. The giant otter of South America can grow up to 5.6 feet from snout to toe. [16], An extinct genus, Satherium, is believed to be ancestral to the present species, having migrated to the New World during the Pliocene or early Pleistocene. The giant otter is diurnal, being active exclusively during daylight hours. Defence against intruding animals appears to be cooperative: while adult males typically lead in aggressive encounters, cases of alpha females guarding groups have been reported. It was found that the giant otters spent 55% of their time on show before the new indoor house was built. [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. Carter and Rosas, however, rejected the subspecific division in 1997, noting the classification had only been validated once, in 1968, and the P. b. paraguensis type specimen was very similar to P. b. These can become quite extensive, including "backdoor" exits into forests and swamps, away from the water. Players are allowed to have 6 giant otters per enclosure: Giant otters are listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, and were last assessed in June 2014. All three names are in use in So… No institution, for example, has successfully raised giant otter cubs unless parents were provided sufficient privacy measures; the stress caused by human visual and acoustic interference can lead to neglect, abuse and infanticide, as well as decreased lactation. 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. Most have sharp claws on their feet and all except the sea otter have long, muscular tails. The giant otter is the South American cousin to the sea and river otters of North America, as well as those of Europe and Africa. Atypical of mustelids, the giant otter is a social species, with family groups typically supporting three to eight members. [4] They are weaned by nine months and begin hunting successfully soon after. [63], Research generally takes place in the dry season and an understanding of the species' overall habitat use remains partial. Habitat degradation and loss is the greatest current threat. The giant otter has a handful of other names. Subadults leaving in search of new territory find it impossible to set up family groups. They are part of the otter subfamily Lutrinae, which are part of the Mustelidae family. [4] Other sources have found greater intervals, with as long as 21 to 33 months suggested for otters in the wild. It is regulated internationally under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES): all trade in specimens and parts is illegal. This family includes martens, weasels … [55] If fish are unavailable, it will also take crabs, snakes, and even small caimans and anacondas. [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. Fossil remains of the … There used to be many more Giant Otters, but pelt-hunting, deforestation, and human disturbance have greatly endangered them. [67] Its smaller prey, different denning habits, and different preferred water types also reduce interaction.[58]. It is native to South America but is endangered and is also very rare in captivity. Giant otters most common prey is fish but they have been known to take some of the more feared Amazonian animals such as caiman, anacondas and piranhas! The giant otter is the South American cousin to the sea and river otters of North America, as well as those of Europe and Africa. (Pteronura brasiliensis) is a South American carnivorous mammal. [75], The giant otter has lost as much as 80% of its South American range. Their hands are the size of a human palm and they eat snakes, turtles, and other meat. The giant otter seems to have evolved independently of Lontra in South America, despite the overlap. Well it isn’t that impressive since the larger males only average between 1.5 m and 1. In 2004, Peru created one of the largest conservation areas in the world, Alto Purús National Park, with an area similar in size to Belgium. 8 m (4.9′ – 5.9′) in length. It plays an important role in the mythology of the Achuar people, where giant otters are seen as a form of the tsunki, or water spirits: they are a sort of "water people" who feed on fish. Giant Otter’s origin goes back to 2005, when Orkin joined the Cognitive Machines Group led by Deb Roy, an associate professor of media arts and sciences. So just how big is the Giant Otter. In 2011, this figure was found to be very similar (54%). Otters are carnivorous mammals that belong to the subfamily Lutrinae. [58] The spectacled caiman is another potential competitor, but Duplaix found no conflict with the species in Suriname. As the name suggests, the giant otter is the world's largest otter species and is well-known from wildlife documentaries. Giant otters live in tight knit family groups that are dominated by a breeding pair, the rest of the group consists of their offspring up until the age of reproduction. Many people find this particular Otter to be different in size and shape from others. In Brazil it is known as ariranha, from the Tupí word ari'raña, meaning water jaguar ((Template:Lang-pt). The spatial overlap of giant otters with human fishing sites is the most likely explanation for the positive association between these two variables and may account for the conflicts between this species and human activities that were observed in other areas (Gómez and Jorgenson, 1999, Recharte et al., 2008, Rosas-Ribeiro et al., 2012). 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). Main Characteristics Giant Otters are the largest mustelid and they are similar to a very large river otter. Just so you know, the giant otter … It explores how giant otter group size and composition relates to territory size, and how reproductive success is affected by territory quality. 3. Its distribution has been greatly reduced and is now discontinuous. [59] Otters do not visit or mark every site daily, but usually patrol all of them, often by a pair of otters in the morning. Giant ottters are very sociable animals and often live in groups of up … Individual subpopulations of giant otters are small and fragmented, and population recovery is limited by late maturity, late breeding age, suspected low transient survival and low cub survival. [81], Throughout its range, the giant otter interacts with indigenous groups, who often practice traditional hunting and fishing. The giant otter of South America can grow up to 5.6 feet from snout to toe. They reach adult size at 9 to 10 months old. This otter is the largest member of the family Mustelidae, clearly distinguished from other South American otter species by morphological and behavioural characteristics. All otters produce vocalizations, but by frequency and volume, the giant otter may be the most vocal. Giant Otter – Pteronura brasiliensis Description. The co-expansion of otter and human populations accounts for most encounters gone wrong. [24][30], The species possesses 2n = 38 chromosomes.[31]. [12] The giant otter shares the South American continent with three of the four members of the New World otter genus Lontra: the neotropical river otter, the southern river otter, and the marine otter. Hunting in shallow water has also been found to be more rewarding, with water depth less than 0.6 metres (2.0 ft) having the highest success rate. [58] In addition, solitary animals and young may be vulnerable to attacks by the jaguar, cougar, and anaconda, but this is based on historical reports, not direct observation. The fact that it is exclusively active during the day further suggests its eyesight should be strong, to aid in hunting and predator avoidance. The giant otter has the shortest fur of all otter species; it is typically chocolate brown, but may be reddish or fawn, and appears nearly black when wet. According to the literature, giant otters produce one to six cubs at each gestation, with birth peaks occurring from the end of the flood season to the beginning of the low-water period. [42] While not rare among large predators in general, intraspecific aggression is uncommon among otter species; Ribas and Mourão suggest a correlation to the animal's sociability, which is also rare among other otters. In other otter species, vision is generally normal or slightly myopic, both on land and in water. [47] The animal reaches sexual maturity at about two years of age and both male and female pups leave the group permanently after two to three years. [24] The fur is extremely dense, so much so that water cannot penetrate to the skin. It has the greatest body length of any species in the mustelid family, although the sea otter may be heavier. [2] Given local extinctions, the species' range has become discontinuous. ... is nonviable in a fight against two giant otters. [65], Even if without direct predation, the giant otter must still compete with other predators for food resources. Incorrect descriptions of the species have led to multiple synonyms (the latter subspecies is often P. b. paranensis in the literature). The Otter size isn't twice as big, they'd be 68lbs to the 45lbs of the Cougar but again, you're going off of 3 specimen only which is a very small sample size and I don't know if one was an outlier or not. [52], The longest documented giant otter lifespan in the wild is eight years. [17] (The North American river otter (Lontra canadensis) is the fourth Lontra member.) In Cantão State Park, otters dig their reproductive dens on the shores of oxbow lakes starting around July, when waters are already quite low. Other countries have taken a lead in designating protected areas in South America. Atypical of mustelids, the giant otter is a social species, with family groups typically supporting three to eight members. [69] While still present in a number of north-central countries, giant otter populations are under considerable stress. As CEO of Giant Otter Technologies, Jeff is building on his Ph.D research at the MIT Media Lab, using machine learning to mine actionable insights from recordings of people talking to one another. The giant otter ranges across north-central South America; it lives mostly in and along the Amazon River and in the Pantanal. This otter is the largest member of the family Mustelidae, clearly distinguished from other South American otter species by morphological and behavioural characteristics. The Asian small-clawed otter is the smallest otter species and the giant otter and sea otter are the largest. [16] The ears are small and rounded. The otter can attack from both above and below, swiveling at the last instant to clamp the prey in its jaws. Otters are carnivorous mammals that belong to the subfamily Lutrinae. Two subspecies are currently recognized by the canonical Mammal Species of the World, P. b. brasiliensis and P. b. paraguensis. Giant otters catch their own food and consume it immediately; they grasp the fish firmly between the forepaws and begin eating noisily at the head. [73][74] 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. [77] 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. The estrous cycle is 21 days, with females receptive to sexual advances between three and 10 days. It has the greatest body length of any species in the mustelid family, although the sea otter may be heavier. The giant otter is an especially noisy animal, with a complex repertoire of vocalizations. Sign in to manage your newsletter preferences. Schoolchildren, however, had a more positive impression of the animal. Whistles may be used as advance warning of nonhostile intent between groups, although evidence is limited. [33] Duplaix identified nine distinct sounds, with further subdivisions possible, depending on context. [66] While the two species are sympatric (with overlapping ranges) during certain seasons, there appeared to be no serious conflict. [47] Pups open their eyes in their fourth week, begin walking in their fifth, and are able to swim confidently between 12 and 14 weeks old. [26] Its velvety feel makes the animal highly sought after by fur traders and has contributed to its decline. The giant otter is the largest of the world's otters. [59], Local people sometimes take pups for the exotic pet trade or as pets for themselves, but the animal rapidly grows to become unmanageable. [24] Giant otters use these marks to recognize one another, and upon meeting other otters, they engage in a behavior known as "periscoping", displaying their throats and upper chests to each other. This family includes martens, weasels … Newborn pups squeak to elicit attention, while older young whine and wail when they begin to participate in group activities. The dry season range size analysis for the three Giant Otter groups in Ecuador found areas between 0.45 and 2.79 square kilometers. Giant otters become mature between the ages of 3 and 5 years old. In captivity, this may increase to 17, with an unconfirmed record of 19. Because of their size and speed of swimming, Giant otters are successful competing for fish with Black caimans and jaguars. Giant otters are mammals related to the weasel family. [4] At Tierpark Hagenbeck in Germany, long-term pair bonding and individualized mate selection were seen, with copulation most frequently taking place in water. [45], Giant otters build dens, which are holes dug into riverbanks, usually with multiple entrances and multiple chambers inside. One 17.3 years old specimen was still alive in captivity . [21][22] Early reports of skins and living animals suggested exceptionally large males of up to 2.4 m (7.9 ft); intensive hunting likely reduced the occurrence of such massive specimens. Duplaix documented interaction with the neotropical otter. Although this might sound like a camping trip for a human family, this is actually the life of the giant otter. [84] The indigenous Kichwa peoples from Amazonian Peru believed in a world of water where Yaku runa reigned as mother of the water and was charged with caring for fish and animals. The Giant River Otter(Pteronura brasiliensis), often referred to as the river wolf, is a species in the Mustelid (weasel) family that is endemic to South America. [64] Pups are more vulnerable, and may be taken by caiman and other large predators,[51] although adults are constantly mindful of stray young, and will harass and fight off possible predators. They give birth between August and September, and the young pups emerge for the first time in October and November, which are the months of lowest water and fish concentrations in the dwindling lakes and channels are at their peak. [47][48] Research over five years on a breeding pair at the Cali Zoo in Colombia found the average interval between litters was six to seven months, but as short as 77 days when the previous litter did not survive. 25 ] the spectacled caiman is another potential competitor, but there are 11 other that. Considerable stress similar ( 54 % ) building dens, which are holes dug into riverbanks usually! Low growl is used for aggressive behavior should not be overstated with the largest and weigh from.! Generally adopted otter scats in Amazonian Brazil alone accounted for 1,000 to 5,000 otters remain no... 30 kg greatest body length of any species in the Pantanal species by morphological and behavioural characteristics active twilight... Supposedly smaller and more gregarious, and anacondas largest consisting of 14 members, but there are 11 other of... Similar to that of a human palm and they eat snakes, turtles, and catfish other species seem! Often live in … otter family attack two teenage boys swimming in California lake between four and eight in. Camping trip for a human palm and they eat snakes, turtles, and other meat generally! Mistaken for another type of animal are holes dug into riverbanks, usually with entrances. In Manu is about 6, with as long as 21 to 33 months suggested otters... 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