The Spotted Necked Otter's scientific name is Lutra maculicollis. The generic name, lutra, is Latin for "otter".
The specific name, maculicollis, means "spotted-neck", referring to
the splotchy brown coloration on the whitish throat fur of this
Spotted-necked otters belong to the weasel family, Mustelidae, which
they share with minks and weasels.
photo Helen Bateman
Spotted-necked otters, like other species of the genus Lutra, are
generally brown in color. However, the spotted-necked otter does not
have a light underside, with the exception of its neck. This
species, like its name implies, has brown splotches on the white
underside of its neck. Adults of this species range from 6-10lbs in
weight and about three feet in length.
This species is found throughout central and southern Africa,
usually inhabiting shallow rivers, creeks and streams. The diet of
spotted-necked otters is primarily composed of fish. Amphibians,
insects and mollusks are also eaten. Unlike the other two species of
African otters, the cape clawless otter and Congo clawless otter,
the spotted necked otter has webbing and claws on all four of its
limbs. The spotted necked otter also catches prey differently than
the clawless otter species, by using its mouth to attack prey, not
photo M Noonan
Spotted-necked otters live in groups of about 20, with a few
breeding pairs and their offspring. Hunting is performed
While it has been
suggested that there is a peak time (summer) for breeding and
parturition, studies in captivity suggest that this species is not
really seasonal in its breeding. On the other hand, there is some
recent information from a study in Tanzania that have observed pups
throughout the year, but did see more during the summer. In any
event, gestations is 63-70 days, and the females give birth to 1-3
pups. Males do not participate in rearing the young. The pups
will remain with their mother for over one year.
The spotted-necked otter is threatened by pollution and habitat
destruction, as are the other two African otter species. Water
clarity is another necessity for this species to flourish. Murky
waters handicap the hunting methods of the spotted necked otter,
which uses sight to find prey.