One of the most endangered species of otter!
The Southern River Otter (Lontra provocax) is a rare species of otter that can be found only on the rocky coastal areas of Argentina and Chile that are surrounded by dense vegetation. While it goes back and forth between freshwater and saltwater environments, the Southern River Otter avoids open coastal habitats. It has been extirpated from much of its historical range, and continues to be threatened by hunting and loss of habitat.
Adult Southern River Otters can grow up to 30 inches (70 cm) in body length, with a relatively broad tail up to 16 inches (40 cm) long. They weigh approximately 22 pounds (10 kg), with males generally being heavier than females. Their coats are dark brown, but paler on their undersides. They have long, sensitive whiskers (vibrissae) that allow them to navigate and sense prey underwater.
The diet of Southern River Otters varies depending on their specific habitat, but is mostly made up of different species of fish and crustaceans. Analyses of the scat of different populations of Southern River Otters also reveal that they eat mollusks and birds, and likely other small aquatic animals and rodents.
Family groups of Southern River Otters tend to be made up of mature females and their offspring, with males tending to have solitary lives. Mating occurs during the winter, and females can delay implantation of the fertilized embryos until the next year, making total gestation time 10 to 12 months. Active gestation is only a couple of months, however, after which the female gives birth to one to four pups. While the pups are self-sufficient when they reach four months old, they stay with their mother until after their first year before setting out to establish their own territories.
The major predators of Southern River Otters are human, and although it is now illegal to hunt them for their fur, poaching is still a significant problem. Pollution also impacts the amount of livable habitat available to Southern River Otters, and development removes it entirely. Southern River Otters are considered to be an endangered species by the IUCN.
Source for all images used in this post.