Neotropical Otter

Lontra longicaudis

©Adriano Gambarini

Standard English Name

Neotropical Otter

Scientific Name

Lontra longicaudis

Brazilian common name/s


Distribution Map - IUCN

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Physical Description

The Neotropical Otter is an animal of semi-aquatic habits measuring about 1 meter long and weighing 5 to 12kg. The coat is short and dense, with a brownish colouration. They have small ears and nostrils that can be closed when the animal dives. The tail is muscular and flexible and is used as a rudder during turns in the water. The legs are short and their feet are webbed.

Ecology and Habitat

This species occurs from Mexico throughout Central and South America to northern Argentina. Neotropical Otters occupy various types of aquatic environments, freshwater and marine, sheltering on the shore margins. They are solitary animals and are rarely found in pairs. They are active during the day.
The diet consists mainly of fish, and also includes crustaceans, amphibians, mammals, insects and birds.

Threats and Conservation

The species is heavily hunted, both for trade and in response to alleged predation of commercially valuable fish stocks. This coupled with habitat destruction and pollution of water has seriously threatened their populations. It is classified by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as vulnerable and by IBAMA, as threatened with extinction.

General information

Average values with minimum and maximum in parentheses

Body / tail length (cm):

51(36-66)a / 54(37-84) a



Weight (kg) / Height (cm):

(5-15) a / -

Living area (km2):


Number of puppies / Gestation (days):

(1-5) a / 56 a

Longevity (years):


Social structure:

Alone or in couples during reproduction b

Activity pattern:

Day a

a (Lariviere 1999)

Online links

IUCN redlist ( presents a synthesis of current knowledge about distribution and conservation status.

IUCN Otter Specialist Group –

IUCN OSG Bulletin –


Gallo-Reynoso, J. P., Ramos-Rosas, N. N., & Rangel-Aguilar, O. (2008). Aquatic bird predation by neotropical river otter (Lontra longicaudis annectens), at Rio Yaqui, Sonora, Mexico. Revista Mexicana de Biodiversidad, 79, 275-279.

Gora, M., Carpaneto, G. M., & Ottino, P. (2003). Spatial distribution and diet of the Neotropical otter Lontra longicaudis in the Ibera Lake (northern Argentina). Acta Theriologica, 48, 495-504.

Josef, C. F., Adriano, L. R., De Franca, E. J., De Carvalho, G. G. A., & Ferreira, J. R. (2008). Determination of Hg and diet identification in otter (Lontra longicaudis) feces. Environmental Pollution, 152, 592-596.

Lariviere, S. (1999). Lontra longicaudis. Mammalian Species, 609, 1–5.

Michalski, F., & Peres, C. A. (2005). Anthropogenic determinants of primate and carnivore local extinctions in a fragmented forest landscape of southern Amazonia. Biological Conservation, 124, 383-396.

Pardini, R. (1998). Feeding ecology of the neotropical river otter Lontra longicaudis in an Atlantic Forest stream, south-eastern Brazil. Journal of Zoology, 245, 385-391.

Perini, A. A., Vieira, E. M., & Schulz, U. H. (2009). Evaluation of methods used for diet analysis of the neotropical otter Lontra longicaudis (Carnivore, Mustelidae) based on spraints. Mammalian Biology, 74, 232-237.

Waldemarin, H. F., & Alvares, R. (2008). Lontra longicaudis. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.2. , Downloaded on 06 July 2010.

Learn more about Brazilian carnivore species