otter's scientific name is Lontra provocax. The generic name, lontra,
means "otter". The specific name, provocax, possibly means
"provocative". If this specific name does indeed mean provocative,
it may refer to the very active lifestyle of the southern river
The southern river otter is a member of the weasel family,
Mustelidae, in the Mammalian Order of Carnivora. Other mustelids
include ferrets and mink.
The southern river otter is generally brown dorsally, with a
lighter, grayer underside. Adults grow to about three feet in length
and weigh 10-20lbs.
This otterís range includes the southeastern tip of South America,
within the Patagonian region of Chile and Argentina. This is the
smallest range of the thirteen otter species. Primarily freshwater,
the southern river otter will also inhabit saltwater bodies. Rocky
coasts of calm bays supporting mature forests with abundant ground
cover are preferred in the marine environment. Lakes, rivers and
streams are preferred for the freshwater habitat. A variety of fish
and crustaceans are consumed by the southern river otter.
Southern river otters are primarily nocturnal and solitary. They do
not defend territories. Breeding occurs in July and August, with 1-4
kits born two months later. Social groups are composed of a single
female and her offspring. The offspring become sexually mature at
two years of age.
Chileans hunted this species for fur during the early 1900ís,
decreasing its numbers extensively. However, it now protected
locally and internationally.