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River Otter
Lontra longicaudis River Otter image
Makushi name: Saro, Pīnmaimī
Creole name: Small Water Dog, Crab Dog
Size: body=65 cm; tail=40 cm; weight=6.5 kg
Description: Distinctive low, streamlined shape reflects its semiaquatic habits. Upperparts brown, underparts pale grey to whitish. Feet webbed; tail thick at base, tapered at tip. Unlikely to be confused with any mammal except Giant Otter, which has white markings on the throat and is much larger.
Activity: Diurnal where not hunted; terrestrial and semiaquatic.
Habits: Usually solitary; groups are sometimes seen, commonly a mother with almost full-grown offspring or a male-female pair. Den is located in burrows on banks, with the entrance above or below water. This species is always found in or near water. It is a fast and agile swimmer, but moves with an awkward, humping gait on land. It eats fish and aquatic invertebrates and may occasionally take birds or mice. Lone individuals are usually silent, mothers with young may whistle, purr, or growl.
Habitat: Along forested rivers, streams and lagoons. Usually found along larger bodies of water, subadults may disperse by traveling along tiny creeks.
Signs: Tracks often seen on sandy banks; tracks broad (60 to 80 mm in adults) with distinctive webbing between toes, tail leaves drag marks between tracks; scat (droppings) are conspicuously placed on rocks in or near water, scat usually contains large amounts of invertebrate exoskeleton.
Status: Rare. Listed on CITES Appendix I.
Distribution in Iwokrama
Giant Otter
Pteronura brasiliensis Giant Otter image
Makushi name: Turara
Creole name: Water Dog
Size: body= 1 m; tail= 60 cm; weight= 30 kg
Description: Large; low, streamlined profile. Rich chocolate brown above and below with cream-white markings on the throat and chin. Feet webbed; tail thick at base, flattened into a paddle toward tip. River Otter is smaller with a pale belly.
Activity: Diurnal; semiaquatic.
Habits: This otter is usually seen in groups of five or more, consisting of an adult pair and young of different ages. Offspring remain with their parents for several years. The group sleeps at night in a burrow on the riverbank, the burrow entrance is above water. These otters are always found close to rivers or other large bodies of water. The diet consists mainly of fish; caiman and other animals found close to water may be consumed occasionally. Fish are usually held on the chest and eaten in the water, but may be dragged to a bank If disturbed in the water, the entire group will crane their heads up and snort sharply. Undisturbed groups are noisy, humming and whining to each other, or squealing in dispute. The social nature, diurnal habits, and limited habitat of this species have made it an easy target for hunters who kill it for fur and because it eats fish. It has been eliminated from many large rivers.
Habitat: Along large bodies of water (rivers, lakes, and flooded areas) in remote regions.
Signs: Tracks are similar to River Otter, but larger (about 100 mm wide), tail leaves clear drag marks; burrows on banks with conspicuous trampled areas and slides into the water; smelly scat and fish scales near burrow entrance.
Status: Although uncommon in most of its range, it is seen with some regularity in parts of Iwokrama that are far from human influence. Listed on CITES Appendix I. IUCN rank of Vulnerable.
Distribution in Iwokrama

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