Due to its dynamic weather, South America is a wonderful place with many kinds of animals. Sometimes the same regions can be sunny and rainy, which creates a remarkable wildlife paradise. Especially, the Amazon Rainforest, which is a haven of a thousand species, including astonishing bird specimens and diverse mammal types. When it comes to uniqueness, some people prefer the playful Pink Rivers Dolphins, while others admire the sweetest Manatee, but a great number of people agree that one of the most interesting creatures found in the Amazon low lands is the curious Giant Otter.
The Pteronura brasiliensis, also known as Giant Otter, is not only the largest mustelid but also the world’s longest otter. This ‘River Wolf’ has a particularly soft chocolate brown fur regularly followed by white patches beneath its body. However, the appearance in color patterns sometimes change from one region to another. It has a long body that contrasts with the short legs and a tail characterized by its amazing strength. The average weight may vary from 57 to 74 pounds (depending on gender: female / male) while the maximum length in general extends to 71″.
Believe it or not, this apparently inoffensive mammal is an exceptional predator. It may look small when compared to Black Caimans or Jaguars, but they are agile when they use their tail, whiskers and speed to successfully compete and fight for preys. This interesting creature is very sensitive to water pressure, for that reason it is easier for them to catch the food when they detect the changes in the water current. Giant River Otter’s diet comprises a variety of fish, including piranhas, cichlids, catfish, crabs, small alligators and small anacondas.
Other interesting fact about the Pteronura brasiliensis is that they are really committed to their couples. As romantic as it may sound, they are monogamous, which means they only have one mate for reproduction. Biologists claim that little is known about their life cycle and reproduction in wild habitat since most of the collected data comes from captive otters. However, even if they are mysterious with their multiple-chamber dens, it is still possible to see female Otters come to the surface to give birth during dry seasons.
Unfortunately, the so-called River-wolf has been facing significant threats within recent decades. Poaching, along with degradation and ecosystem have definitely altered the number of specimens. Thus, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora changed their status from ‘vulnerable’ to ‘endangered’ in 1999.
Whenever you decide to take one of our luxury Amazon River Cruise to adventure into the tropical rainforest, you can easily have the wonderful opportunity to spot these unique yet interesting otters while they seem to wish you a great trip.