African Spotted-necked Otter Pictures, Stock Photos, Images, Illustrations

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African Spotted-necked Otter, Lutra maculicollis, Pictures, Stock Photos, Images and Illustrations

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Spotted-necked otters are similar in appearance to other river otters but are distinguished by the light-colored irregular markings on their throat and chest and by their range, which is sub-Saharan Africa. Though seldom seen, they are presumed to be fairly common across their vast range. They tend to be more strictly aquatic than other river otters.

Spotted-necked otters live in the rivers, streams, lakes, and swamps of central Africa, with the largest numbers found in the areas of Lake Victoria (Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya) and Lake Tanganyika (Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Zambia).

Male spotted-necked otters grow to a length of 1.2 meters long (about 4 feet) including the tail, with females being slightly smaller. Fully grown specimens weigh 4-6.5 kg (9-14 lbs), and they have a long, slender appearance.

The coat of the spotted-necked otter is reddish brown to coffee color, and almost black when wet. The irregular markings of white to light brown on their throat, belly and chin give this species its name and make it possible to identify individuals. Vibrissae (whiskers) on the spotted-necked otter are smaller and less apparent than those of other species of river otter.

Like other otters, the spotted-necked river otter has a very dense coat of soft fur, plus another layer of guard hair fur. The fur traps air close to the skin of the otter, keeping it warm in the water. It spends time each day grooming its fur by rubbing against rocks, branches and grass.


North American River Otter
Picture of African Spotted-necked Otter, Lutra maculicollis Image #: 027996

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Subphylum: Vertebrata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Suborder: Caniformia/Canoidea

Family: Mustelidae/Mustelids

Subfamily: Lutrinae

Genus: Lutra

Specific: maculicollis

Species: Lutra maculicollis

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Spotted-necked otters propel themselves in the water with their feet, which feature webbing that extends to the tips of their toes, and with their powerful tail. Their tail is round, but with a slightly flattened underside. They can close their ears and nostrils while underwater. Agile in the water, they are somewhat clumsy on land and rarely venture more than 10 meters from the water.

Spotted-necked otters are diurnal in the great lakes of Africa, but nocturnal where it is to their advantage. They primarily hunt by sight, and so prefer clear waters. They catch prey with their jaws and eat in the water. Their primary diet is fish, but they also eat crabs, frogs, insects and shellfish. When marshes and ponds dry up, frogs become easy prey and are taken in greater quantities.

Spotted-necked otters are preyed upon by crocodiles, pythons, and eagles. To a certain extent, they compete with the Cape clawless otter (Aonyx capensis) for resources, as they occupy an overlapping range, but spotted-necked otters favor fish and small crabs, while Cape clawless otters concentrate on large crabs.

Spotted-necked otters are generally solitary, though they sometimes come into contact with each other while foraging. Like most river otters, they mark their territories with scent from their anal glands and with spraint. Groups of spotted-necked otters are typically family units of a mother and her pups. Male otters have a larger range than do the females, and their ranges may overlap those of several females. The vocalization of the spotted-necked otter sounds like a "mew."

Spotted-necked otters have litters of 1-4 pups. They are born in September, can swim by November, and are weaned within 3 to 4 months of birth. They are independent from their family group at two years. If the first litter of pups in a season does not survive, they can breed again.

Spotted-necked otters are listed as Least Concern by the IUCN. Nevertheless, they face the threat of habitat loss in many parts of their range. Increased silt due to deforestation reduces water quality, making foraging more difficult and reducing the quantity of fish. Wetlands are increasingly being drained for agriculture. Water pollution, overfishing, and hunting are additional threats. Spotted-necked otters are hunted for their pelts and for the bush meat trade.

Alternate names: Speckle-throated Otter, Spotted necked Otter, Spot-necked Otter, Loutre a Cou Tachete, Nutria de Cuello Manchado