IUCN Otter Specialist Group . . . leading global otter conservation Last Update: Tuesday December 16, 2014
 
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Your question will be passed to the most appropriate person to answer it, and a response will be emailed to you, and also appear here. Because we are a diverse, international group, many of whom work in the field, replies may take a while to arrive!

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Previous Questions and Answers

   
Many of the questions we get are very technical or specific to a certain situation.  Below are a selection of more general questions that may be of interest to readers.

Q

Nanette, Northern Cape, South Africa, 8 February 2012
We live on the Vaalriver in the Northern Cape (SA). At early hours of the morning the clawless otters looks like adults and young, will gather on the grass near river. It looks as if they go in trance like state while lifting their tails and squirting, steam in a bow. Afterwards they will role in the excretion. Please could you explain the behavior.

A

This is called group sprainting (sprainting is the "otter" word for defaecation). All otter species except sea otters use their faeces and urine to mark their territory, and probably to convey information to other otters. Social species, such as clawless otters, also use it to bond the group by smell .....
...In depth answer (8 February 2012)
   

Q

Frank and Diane Lenarchich, Barber Lake, Wisconsin, USA, 13 October 2011
We live on Barber Lake in northern Wisconsin and see groups of otters fairy often.  The other day, as both of our dogs were standing on our pier barking, a group of 4 otters started swimming directly to them!  I called the dogs and they came to me on the shore and the otters swam off.  But one dog (big black lab) went back in the water to play.  All otters swam towards him and then one broke off to meet my dog face to face.  I was screaming his name to "come" but he's a very friendly dog.  The otter swam under water, the dog yelped loudly, and he swam to shore, crying all the way.  He ran to me and he didn't appear to have any injuries.  An hour later I saw he had a very small bite/scratch just below his butt-hole!  I suppose this is what happened when the otter went down under water!  He stayed far away from the water after that!  This happened on 10-12-11.  Any comments?  Was it playful or aggressive?  The otters kept coming toward us so I guess the dogs thought they were wanting to play. 

A

Your dog was very lucky to have gotten away so lightly! Four otters would have been a mother and three young otters - otters stay with their mother till they are 18 months old and look full-grown. It would have been the mother that approached your dog, definitely not playing but defending her young and territory.. ...
...In depth answer (13 October 2011)
   

Q

Diane Tomecek, Denver, Colorado, USA, 1 October 2011
What year was the lontra (New World) vs. lutra (Old World) distinction accepted by scientists and researchers?

A

in brief, the New World Lutras became Lontras in 1998 but it took about ten years to become the normal usage. ...
...In depth answer (2 October 2011)
   

Previous Entries

July 2010 Life span of sea otters and hand-raising pups
July 2009 Stopping otters pooping in my boathouse
March 2009 Asian Small-Clawed Otters
January 2009 Body measurement protocols
October 2008 Are all otters on the red list? - Yes, all 13 are on the Red List, with various ratings.
July 2008 How long do Giant Otters live? Giant otters live about 8 years in the wild, though most die in the first year of life. In captivity, they live about 13 years, sometimes more.
July 2008 Charities for South American otters? Chinchamen Crusade, http://www.chinchimen.org/ and International Otter Survival Fund (IOSF http://www.otter.org)
June 2008 Can otters climb trees?
June 2008 Otters in Picardy
September 2007 A career in otters
September 2007 What kind of otters in Krabi, Thailand
August 2007 Extinct Aonyx capensis type otter in Central America
July 2007 Megalenhydris - an extinct otter
June 2007 Are strange nocturnal noises otters?
April 2007 Breeding age of Asian Small-Clawed Otters
April 2007 Vasectonization of Asian Small-Clawed Otters
April 2007 Mysterious Otter camera-trapped in Cambodia (important!)
April 2007 Otters as pets
April 2007 Vegetation for Asian Small-Clawed Otter enclosure in zoo
Mar 2007 Otters in Florida
Mar 2007 What organisations help save otters?
Mar 2007 Reintroduction of Sea Otters off Oregon Coast
Mar 2007 Otter in west Israel?
Mar 2007 Otter Distribution in East Anglia
Jan 2007 Otters in Limousin ?
Dec 2006 Database of otter conservation/research?
Nov 2006 Obtaining a Dissertation?
Oct 2006 Lutra lutra on the coast of Iraq?
Oct 2006 Reintroduction of Otters in South America
Oct 2006 Otter Surveying on Hainan Island, China
Oct 2006 Legality of Possessing Old Otter Skin Items