Can you believe that this mustelid still hasn’t won an Oscar?
The Smooth-coated Otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) is the largest otter species in Asia, and can be found primarily in south east Asia, with a small isolated population in Iraq. Although they can be found along the coasts, they need an adjacent source of fresh water and generally prefer freshwater habitats like wetlands, swamps, lakes and rivers.
Adult Smooth-coated Otters can grow up to 25 inches (64 cm) in body length, with a tail about 17 inches (43 cm) long. They weigh approximately 24 pounds (11 kg), and males are generally bigger than females. As their name suggests, their coats are shorter and smoother than other types of otters, and their tails are more flat in shape, rather than round. Coat color is generally brown, with paler undersides.
Smooth-coated Otters are diurnal, meaning that they’re most active during the day. Most of their diet consists of varying species of fish, but they will also eat crustaceans, frogs, reptiles, insects and small mammals. Smooth-coated Otters are very social, and often hunt in groups of up to 11 individuals. They will swim almost in a net formation, swimming wildly and causing the fish to panic. Then the otters dive after the fish and toss them onto the shore.
Family groups of Smooth-coated Otters consist of a mated pair with their offspring, and they can breed at any time of the year as long as the food supply is good. In areas of their range that experience dry seasons, they mate during the fall and winter, and female Smooth-coated Otters give birth to litters of up to seven pups after a 63-day gestation period. Pups are completely weaned after five months, and stay with their family groups for a while before going off in search of their own territories.
The primary threat to Smooth-coated Otters is loss of habitat, and they are considered to be a vulnerable species by the IUCN. Smooth-coated Otters are also affected by pollution and pesticides, and are sometimes poached for their fur. There are currently three recognized subspecies of Smooth-coated Otter:
- Lutrogale perspicillata perspicillata (India and other parts of southeast Asia)
- Lutrogale perspicillata maxwelli (Iraq)
- Lutrogale perspicillata sindica (Pakistan)
Source for all images used in this post.