|Distribution of spotted-necked otter|
The spotted-necked otter (Hydrictis maculicollis), or speckle-throated otter, is an otter native to sub-Saharan Africa. It is a smallish otter, 95–105 cm (37–42 in) long, including the tail, and weighing 3.0 to 6.5 kg (6.6-14.3 lbs). Like other otters, it is sleek and has webbed paws for swimming. Its fur is deep brown and marked with light spots around its throat.
In Africa south of 10°N, spotted-necked otters are found in lakes and larger rivers. They are common in Lake Victoria and across Zambia, but for some unexplained reason often are absent from what appear to be suitable habitats, such as the lakes and rivers, of East Africa and the Zambezi below Victoria Falls. No evidence of Lutra maculicollis venturing into salt water has been found.
Spotted-necked otters appear to hunt entirely by sight, capturing fish, snails and small crustateans in rivers and lakes in clear water with good visibility. Larger prey items are carried ashore while smaller items are eaten while treading water. They are known to use rocks to smash open shells. This rudimentary use of tools indicates the intelligence of the otter. It is very vocal, uttering high, thin whistles. The female bears a litter of about three young in an underground burrow, and cares for them for almost a year.
The otters are sometimes found in family groups, but appear to be social only under certain conditions. Males and females are separated for at least part of the year.
- Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 532–628. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
- Hoffmann M (2008). Lutra maculicollis. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 2008-10-13.
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- Richard Despard Estes (Ed.) (1992). The Behavior Guide to African Mammals : Including Hoofed Mammals, Carnivores, Primates. University of California Press. p. 437. ISBN 0-520-08085-8.
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