Appearance and Anatomy of the Spotted-Necked Otter

The information below comes from Harris (1968), Otternet, Otters: Proceedings of the First Working Meeting of the Otter Specialist Group (1977), Otters: An Action Plan for their Conservation. (1990), and University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web.


The Spotted-Necked Otter Spotted-Necked Otters are medium-small otters, shaped roughly like a Eurasian otter.


Sex Total Length Tail Weight
Male 95 - 117cm
(39 - 43")
33 - 45cm
(13 - 18")
4 - 6.5kg
(11 - 13lb)
The female is 10% shorter, lighter and less muscular.

Head and Teeth

Note the position of the nostrils either side of the hairless rhinarium, and the spotted neck This species has a standard otter head, although Harris (1968) consders it to be more marten-like than other otters, with a less fleshy muzzle and weaker vibrissae. The nose is a trapezoid with a slightly V-shaped upper border, and the nostrils obvious either side of the nose pad. The rhinarium and septum are hairless.

The teeth are rather small standard otter teeth. The dental formula is

I 3/3 C 1/1 P 4/3 M 1/2 = 36
The molars are small carnassials, giving slicing capability. The incisors are tiny, and used for grooming.


A sleek and slender otter, with comparitively large hind feet.  Note the speckling on the neck and groin. This species is the usual long, slender otter shape. Like all other otters, they possess two sub-caudal anal scent glands which open inside the anus, and secrete a dark brown, musky, viscous liquid; these can be contracted voluntarily or as a reflex upon sudden alarm.


The tail, which is about a third of the total length of the animal, is the usual tapered otter tail, rounded in cross-section but slightly flattened underneath.

Legs and Paws

Underside of front paw showing webbing
to tips of digits Underside of back paw showing simple plantar region This otter has webbed paws ,with short, fine hairs on the underside of the webbing; the latter extends to the tips of the digits. The claws are strong and well developed, though not particularly long. Front foot The feet are large in proportion to the body when compared to the Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra).


The fur is thick and velvety. The guard hairs are 13-16mm long, and the underfur 7mm. The main colour of the spotted-necked otter varies from a light milk chocolate through reddish-brown to almost black; the underside is lighter. The fur on the back is glossier, and can appear almost metallic. The animals show extremely variable spotting of the top lip, chin, throat and groin, in creamy white (buff yellow in juveniles). A few individuals show no markings at all, but for those that do, the spotting is unique to each animal.

Spotted-Necked Otter