Spotted-Necked Otter (Lutra maculicollis)

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Body length: >1m (Kruuk 2006)

Spotted Necked Otter

Weight: 3-6 kg (Males slightly larger than females) (Kruuk 2006)

Color: Dark brown on back with irregular patches of white underneath (Kruuk 2006)

Feet: Large webbed feet with claws (Kruuk 2006)

Lifespan: ~ 8 years in the wild (Lariviere 2002)

Range: Most of Africa South of the Sahara and North of the Zambezi River with a few exceptions in areas of Eastern South Africa (Kruuk 2006).

Spotted Necked Range Map from

Home Range: ~ 5-16km2 , typically larger for males than females (Lariviere 2002)

Habitat: Open lakes, rivers, and dams with rocky shores, dense shrubbery and forest. Do not travel far from the water because they are not well adapted to moving on land (Kruuk 2006).

Behavior/ Social Structure: Do not hunt cooperatively but live in groups of about five individuals.  Groups can be made up of all males or a female with her offspring.  Social living may help to prevent predation from crocodiles and eagles who share their habitat (Kruuk 2006).

Communication: Two main vocalizations: a high pitches whistle for play-fighting and aggressive repeating shrill chatters when threatened (Lariviere 2002)

Diet: Feed mostly on fish, but also eat crabs, frogs, and insects. In Lake Victoria and Lake Malawi they feed almost exclusively on cichlid fish (Kruuk 2006).

Spotted Necked Otter Photo by J. Shannon

Reproduction: Mating occurs in July and gestation last 2 months and litters can consist of 1 to 3 pups; young stay with mothers for up to one year (Lariviere 2002).

Predators: Crocodiles and humans (Lariviere 2002)

Conservation Status: Listed as Least Concern and CITES Appendix II (ICUN 2011).  Numbers are declining due to pollution, unsafe fishing practices, and habitat destruction.  Also they often hunted for furs and food (ICUN 2011).