The neotropical river otter's scientific name is Lontra longicaudis. The
generic name, lontra, means "otter". The specific name, longicaudis,
means "long tail", possibly referring to this species' tail.
The neotropical river otter is a member of the weasel family,
Mustelidae, in the Mammalian Order of Carnivora. Other mustelids
include ferrets and mink.
Like other members of the genus Lontra, the neotropical otter is
generally brown in color with a lighter underside and throat. Males
are larger than females. Adults are about three feet in length and
weigh about 25lbs. Three distinct subspecies have been identified,
each distinguished by the shape of their nose.
The neotropical otter’s range stretches from northern Mexico to
subcentral South America. Fast-flowing, clear creeks and streams are
preferred. Warm and cool climates are favored equally, as well as
both coniferous and deciduous forests. Fish are the primary
component of this otter species’ diet, but crustaceans, insects,
amphibians, and small birds, mammals and reptiles are eaten
photo: Helen Bateman
Neotropical otters lead solitary lives, only pairing with another
otter to breed. This pairing lasts for about a day. The female then
gives birth to 1-6 kits after a gestation of two months. The weaning
age is unknown, but sexual maturity occurs at two years of age.
Neotropical otters face the same threats of most tropical rainforest
species, which is primarily habitat destruction due to deforestation
for agricultural development. However, water pollution is also
responsible for a decrease in the Neotropical river otter’s