(Last Updated On: April 15, 2021)

The southern river otter, scientific name Lontra provocax is a species of otter that lives in Chile and Argentina. Although referred to as a “river otter”, it inhabits marine and freshwater environments.

Southern River Otter profile

It typically is taken into account a subspecies of Lontra canadensis. The southern river otter is listed as endangered, resulting from unlawful looking, water air pollution, and habitat loss.

Southern river otters had been vigorously hunted for his or her pelts all through the final 100 years. In addition, habitat loss resulting from human presence, dam and street building, and stream canalization and drainage for agriculture.

Though Argentina started passing laws in 1960 to outlaw the looking of the southern river otter, looking nonetheless does happen due to the dearth of enforcement. Hunting is authorized and does happen in Chile. They are additionally threatened by some launched invasive aquatic species.


The diet of the southern river otter consists primarily of fish, typically crustaceans, and sometimes mollusks and birds. Southern river otters are solitary animals and are principally energetic at night and spend their day in shelter dens comparable to rock cavities, hole timber or logs, earth banks, or amongst tree roots.

Geographic Region

Southern river otters have the smallest geographic range of any otter species on the planet. They can solely be present in South America. Specifically, they dwell in central and southern Chile and southern Argentina.

The marine otters principally dwell alongside the southern tip of this space. This area is roofed by temperate forests.

The average dwelling range of a single otter covers about seven miles. The particulars of their actions aren’t well-known, however, it’s thought that there’s not a lot of territory overlap between same-sex otters.

What this implies is that whereas a male and a feminine might need overlapping dwelling ranges, a male and one other male most likely wouldn’t.


This medium-sized otter’s body can develop as much as 2.5 ft (70 cm) long, with a tail including about 16 in (40 cm). Bodyweight averages about 5–10 kg (11-22 lbs). Its fur is dark-brown on the top and has a lighter cinnamon shade on its underside.

Southern River Otter

Southern River Otter Habitat

Artificial / Aquatic & Marine, Artificial / Aquatic – Aquaculture Ponds, Artificial / Aquatic – Irrigated Land (consists of irrigation channels), Artificial / Aquatic – Ponds (beneath 8ha), Artificial / Aquatic – Seasonally Flooded Agricultural Land, Artificial / Aquatic – Wastewater Treatment Areas, Artificial / Aquatic – Water Storage Areas (over 8ha), Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands, Coastal Freshwater Lakes, Forest, Marine Coastal / Supratidal, Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha), Permanent Freshwater Marshes / Pools (below 8ha), Permanent Inland Deltas, Permanent Rivers / Streams / Creeks (consists of waterfalls), Permanent Saline, Brackish or Alkaline Lakes, Permanent Saline, Brackish or Alkaline Marshes / Pools, Seasonal / Intermittent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha), Seasonal / Intermittent Freshwater Marshes / Pools (below 8ha), Seasonal / Intermittent Saline, Brackish or Alkaline Lakes and Flats, Seasonal / Intermittent Saline, Brackish or Alkaline Marshes / Pools, Seasonal / Intermittent / Irregular Rivers / Streams / Creeks, Shrub Dominated Wetlands, Subtropical / Tropical Mangrove Vegetation Above High Tide Level, Subtropical / Tropical Moist Lowland, Subtropical / Tropical Swamp and Wetlands (inland)

When you hear the name ‘river otter,’ it’s possible you’ll assume that the species lives in freshwater. After all, rivers are sometimes freshwater! However, a species name does not all the time inform the entire story.

Take the southern river otter (Lontra provocax), for instance. This species can dwell in both freshwater or marine (saltwater) environments. Southern river otters are medium-sized, so far as otters go. They develop to be just a little below 4 feet from nostril to tail, and they’re darkish brown on top with a lighter underside.

Marine-based southern river otters dwell alongside the shoreline. They favor protected areas, comparable to bays or canals set just a little method back from the ocean.

They additionally like their shorelines to have rocky caves or dense vegetation. This species additionally lives in freshwater and may be discovered alongside lakes, streams, ponds, and naturally, rivers. The otters in freshwater habitats additionally favor dense plants for defense.

Although the feminine and her younger will dwell in family teams, males are normally solitary. Litter sizes average one to 2 pups, however, as many as 4 may be born at a time. Their diets embrace fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and birds.

The southern river otter may be present in marine, freshwater, and terrestrial habitats, however, are principally present in freshwater lakes and rivers having a major quantity of dense vegetation, particularly alongside the shorelines, which have to be present to make use of as cover.

Their habitats additionally need the basic techniques of mature timber, in addition to fallen tree particles.

Southern River Otter


Southern river otters had been vigorously hunted for his or her pelts all through the final 100 years. This is the most important explanation for their present low inhabitant’s numbers and endangered conservation standing.

Since then, they haven’t been in a position to get better resulting from quite a few different threats. At this level, solely seven identified populations of this species are discovered all through Chile and Argentina, and all the populations are remoted from one another.

The riparian forests and rivers during which these otters are principally discovered have been disturbed by human presence. Dam and street building, in addition to stream canalization and drainage for agriculture, destroy many acres of what could possibly be a habitat for this species.

Though Argentina started passing laws in 1960 to outlaw the looking of the southern river otter, looking nonetheless does happen due to the dearth of enforcement. Hunting is authorized and does happen in Chile.

The continuous lower in prey numbers additionally causes issues for the southern river otter. Some invasive aquatic species which were launched into that space are limiting the mollusks and fish out there for otter prey. This causes the otters to maneuver to different freshwater techniques to hunt for meals.

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After a gestation interval of roughly 2 months, Southern River Otters give start to 1 – four cubs.


Several surveys and research have been carried out on the southern river otter to raised perceive its declining population numbers to have the ability to forestall the species from turning extinct. Several of the identified populations are discovered inside national forests.

One survey specifically was carried out to find out if any of these species dwell inside these protected areas. The creator surveyed three parks in Argentina: Lanin, Puelo, and Los Alerces National Parks.

The surveyors spoke with people who dwell and work close to these areas and regarded for prints and droppings of the southern river otter, whereas additionally searching for indicators of the American mink.

The mink was launched into this space and is believed to compete with the southern river otter for meal assets and habitat houses. The outcomes confirmed indicators of the southern river otter had been present in 32 of the 275 surveyed sites throughout the three parks.

Of the 32 confirmed sites, 31 had been of dense forest with thick undergrowth close to the shorelines of freshwater techniques. These outcomes counsel having shoreline vegetation for cover is significant for his or her survival.

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