Giant otter Facts

Giant otter Facts
Giant otter belongs to a family of carnivorous mammals called mustelid. Giant otters are endemic (live only there and nowhere else) for the South America, and they can be found in the Orinoco, Amazon and La Plata River systems. They prefer slow-moving rivers, lakes, swamps and flooded forests during the rainy season. Number of giant otters dropped drastically in the last couple of years due to extensive hunting (their fur is highly valuable in the fashion industry) and because of river pollution (heavy metals such as mercury are highly poisonous for otters).
Interesting Giant otter Facts:
Giant otters have dense, velvety and thick brown fur which is water repellent (prevents water from reaching the skin).
Giant otter has 3.25 - 4.5 feet in length and weights between 49-71 pounds. Tail is 18-26 inches long.
Some specimens can be 6 feet long (like adult man), but due to small weight they have streamlined sleek look, which is perfectly adapted to the life in the water.
Giant otters are excellent swimmers and divers thanks to their short, webbed feet and flattened tail. They swim 9 miles per hour and pass distance of 330 feet in 30 seconds.
Giant otter have small ears and nostrils which close each time they dive under water.
Giant otters spend most of the time in water because they feed mostly on fish and because they require large quantities of food: each animal eats 6-9 pounds of food per day.
Small anacondas, caimans, crustaceans and other sea creatures are also on the giant otter's menu.
Giant otters have well developed sense of sight, used primarily for the hunting. Besides eyes, they use the whiskers to detect the prey in the water by identifying changes in the water pressure and current.
Giant otters do not store food. When they catch a prey, they will find a peaceful place ("picnic spot") to eat it.
Besides humans, main predators of giant otters are jaguars, large anacondas and large caimans.
Giant otters are very loud animals. They produce around 9 different types of sounds, such as quick barks, explosive snorts, wavering screams or low growls, to inform other otters about potential danger (alarm sound) or to send aggressive warning.
Giant otters live in groups composed of 3 to 10 animals, formed by the monogamous couple (mother and father) and few generations of their offspring.
Giant otters mate throughout whole years, but most babies are born during the dry season. Pregnancy lasts 64 to 72 days, and female gives birth between one and six babies. They spend their first month in a den, which is usually located underground. All members of the group take care of the young.
After two or three weeks after they are born, mother puts babies in the water where they learn to swim. In month or two, they become proficient swimmers and can hunt with the rest of their family. They stay within the family group usually until they reach sexual maturity, at age of 2.5 years.
Giant otters live 12 years in the wild and up to 21 years in captivity.

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