Smooth Coated Otter

 

Common Name: Smooth-Coated Otter
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
Genus: Lutrogale
Species: Lutrogale perspicillata
 

 



Taxonomy/Description

The Smooth-Coated Otter's scientific name is Lutrogale perspicillata. The generic name, lutrogale, may mean “helmeted otter", possibly referring to the domed skull of this genus. The specific name, perspiciallata, may mean "keen eyes", possibly referring to the more frontally spaced eyes of this genus. The smooth-coated otter is a member of the weasel family, Mustelidae, in the Mammalian Order of Carnivora. Other mustelids include ferrets and mink.

The Smooth-Coated Otter is generally brown dorsally, with a lighter underside and throat. Rounder heads and flatter tails are two characteristics by which one may distinguish this otter species. They are the largest species of Southeast Asian otter, with adults growing to about four feet in length and weigh 15-25lbs.

Habitat/Diet

This otter species lives throughout Southeast Asia, including the eastern Middle East, Indian subcontinent through northern Indonesia and Malaysia. Smooth-coated otters prefer mangrove swamps and forested wetlands with access to sea. Fish are the primary component of its diet, complimented with crustaceans and insects.

Behavior/Reproduction

Smooth-coated otters live in family groups. A monogamous breeding pair and their offspring of several years comprise the group. The breeding female is dominant. Mating may occur at any time throughout the year, but is usually synchronous with monsoon season. One to four cubs are born after a gestation of two months. Cubs leave the family group after one year, reaching sexual maturity at two years.

Conservation

As with most otter species, industrialization has caused population decline. Deforestation and drainage of wetlands has limited the available habitat for this species. Habitat destruction, coupled with pollution is threatening the well-being of the smooth-coated otter, despite protective legislation throughout its range. One subspecies of this otter may already be extinct. The status of the Iraqi subspecies is currently unknown, but researchers estimate it is unfavorable.
 

Content provided by Canisius College students under the direction of Michael Noonan, PhD.