The Giant Otter
The giant otter (Pteronura brasiliensis) is classified as part of the sub-family of otters (Lutrinae) and is the largest of all 13 species of Otters.
Giant otters are found only in South America and prey mostly on fish, but can also eat crabs, frogs, snakes, lizards and small caimans.
Giant otters can live in groups of 2 up to 20 individuals, composed by a single breading couple and many juvenile individuals. The older generations will help raise and protect the youngest generation.
They build their dens along the river banks and lakes which are used for protection, resting, breading and raising of the cubs. Giant otters also uses latrines, which is a type of communal toilet.
The latrines are a way of marking territory with a characteristic smell, letting other otter groups know this is their territory.
Giant otters have an average territories that range up to 10 river kilometers. Every day the group will scent-mark up and down along the banks of their territories. During the rainy season when the water level raises, the territories can become 3 times larger. Scent-marking is known as a form of communication between different giant otter groups. If a group passes the boundaries of its own territory they will quickly recognize that the change in scent signals that is area has other owners.
Encounters between rival groups can end in violent and noisy fights.
Giant otters also have a vocal repertoire that composes of 15 different calls and songs, each used to communicate something different with each other. If you would like to know more about behaviors and vocal sounds.
To learn more about the specie you can also read the publications of our research committee.