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How many members can a giant river otter family have? Candid Animal Cam

  • Every two weeks, Mongabay brings you a new episode of Candid Animal Cam, our show featuring animals caught on camera traps around the world and hosted by Romi Castagnino, our writer and conservation scientist.

Camera traps bring you closer to the secretive natural world and are an important conservation tool to study wildlife. This week we’re meeting the world’s largest otter and largest member of the weasel family: the giant river otter.

Giant river otters (Pteronura brasiliensis) are endemic to South America and only live in three river systems: the Amazon, Orinoco and La Plata. They are very territorial and mark and patrol their home areas frequently. Giant river otters are highly social animals and live in extended family groups ranging from two to 20 members but on average between four and eight. The head of the group is a monogamous pair that mates for life. These groups are cohesive and cooperative and create dens by burrowing into riverbanks or under fallen logs. They usually have multiple entrances and multiple chambers inside.

Between the 1940s to 70s they were nearly hunted to extinction for their pelt. Now their main threat is habitat degradation and destruction. The IUCN classifies them as an Endangered species and all trade in specimens or parts is illegal. Watch the video to learn more about this species!

The camera trap footage was taken in Manu National Park in the Otorongo and Maizal Owbox Lakes by the Frankfurt Zoological Society – Peru. You can follow FZS-Peru’s work on Instagram and their website. Special thanks to Manu Landscape Coordinator of FZS-Peru Óscar Mujica for sharing the conservation work the organization is doing for giant river otters.

Banner image by http://www.araguaia.org via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Romi Castagnino is Mongabay’s bilingual writer. Find her on Twitter and Instagram: @romi_castagnino