Spotted-necked Otter, Hydrictis maculicollis

The spotted-necked otter (Hydrictis maculicollis) is native to sub-Saharan Africa. It is sometimes called the speckle-throated otter. It can be found throughout Zambia and in Lake Victoria. Despite the abundance of suitable habitats, these otters are not found in east Africa or below Victorian Falls in Zambezi. They prefer to live around lakes or large rivers. Although the range of this otter is quite large, bushmeat hunting, habitat destruction, and pollution are causing populations to decline. The conservation status of the spotted-necked otter is of “Least Concern”.

The spotted-necked otter can grow to be 3.5 feet long, and can weigh an average of 6.6 to 14.3 pounds. As with other otters, the spotted-necked otter has sleek, dark brown fur, but can be distinguished by the white or pale spots on its neck.  They have webbed feet that allow them to be skilled swimmers.

The diet of the spotted-necked otter consists of fish, small crustaceans, and snails. Its prey must be within clear water, because this otter uses mainly sight to hunt and catch the prey. In order to break tough shells of crabs and crustaceans, these otters will use rocks to smash them open, showing just how clever they are. Highly vocal creatures, the spotted-necked otter will emit many high-pitched whistles when communicating with other otters. Females are capable of having three young per litter, and will care for them for nearly a year. Despite being social, male and females otters will separate themselves for part of a year.

Image Caption: Spotted-necked otter (Hydrictis maculicollis). Credit: derekkeats/Wikipedia(CC BY-SA 2.0)