Giant otter

Giant otter

Pteronura brasiliensis

IUCN status
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Giant otter

« An extremely skilled diurnal hunter »

The king of the hunt

The giant otter is the largest of all the otters and is emblematic of South America.

Measuring 1.80 m long and weighing 30 kg, the giant otter is the largest representative of the mustelids! This carnivorous predator, a genuine freshwater terror, is quite simply made for fishing. Its dense, waterproof fur insulates its skin from the water and the cold. The otter uses its short legs and webbed feet to propel itself under the water, and easily manoeuvres itself with its long, flattened tail. It is an extremely skilled diurnal hunter and will readily use tools when needed to dislodge prey or to open their shells.

Giant otter

The Beauval Nature association

For the past 10 years, the Beauval Nature association has joined forces with field workers to support them in their primary mission of species conservation. Beauval works closely with numerous conservation and research programmes around the world to study and protect endangered species. This everyday action takes place in order to protect our biodiversity.

Giant otter

A water quality “bioindicator”

The giant otter is one of the most endangered species in South America
Formerly hunted for its thick fur, it is today threatened by pollution, fragmentation, and destruction of its habitat. 

Its environment is currently being destroyed by illegal gold extraction, which requires the use of mercury, a highly polluting metal. The more degraded the habitat, the less the otter is present. Being sensitive to any disturbances in its environment, it is therefore a good indicator of the quality of its habitat.

Giant otter
Giant otter
Giant otter
Giant otters
Giant otter
Beauval Nature

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Learn more about the species

  • Diet
  • Gestation period
    2 to 2½ months
  • Litter size
    1 to 6 young
  • Habitat
    Freshwaters, Wetlands, Tropical forests

A family group

The giant otter is a very social animal living as a couple that mates for life. They generally live in family groups composed of a female, a male, and their offspring from several litters. Family bonds are very strong. Parents and their offspring play, eat, and sleep together.

A predator at the top of the food chain

Whatever name you give it, be it “giant otter”, “giant Brazilian otter”, “ South American giant otter”, or the “river wolf”, the otter is a formidable predator, just like the jaguar, cougar, and the anaconda. Thanks to physical attributes that are highly effective for hunting, an adult giant otter can consume up to 4 kg of fish per day, which is approximately 10 % of its body weight! It will even attack prey such as caimans or anacondas if fish is scarce!

A throat patch that is unique to each individual

On its somewhat uniform brown coat, the giant otter has a light patch on its chin that varies in size. This marking may extend down to the neck and is called a “throat patch”. It is unique to each individual, allowing them to be distinguished. Our female Isolda has a much more pronounced patch than Pequeño, the male.

Where can I see them in the park?

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Other species in the territory

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