Habitat of the Spotted-Necked Otter

This account is taken from The African Species Databank, Kruuk (1995), Otters: Proceedings of the First Working Meeting of the Otter Specialist Group (1977), University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web, Kruuk (1995), Lejeune (1989) and Lejeune (1990).

Spotted-Necked Otters prefer clear, fresh water, especially that at higher altitudes, with permanent, continuous waterways. Deep rivers, lakes, swamps, mountain streams and artificial impoundments such as reservoirs are favoured provided that there is the right kind of riparian vegetation and food. They prefer stream sides and islands to have thick, long grass, reeds and semi-aquatic shrubs for lying up in during inactive periods. They do not, however, pay attention to what lies beyond this vegetation belt, and are found in agricultural, pastoral and wild areas. The water must support plenty of small (<20cm) fish and other suitable prey, and so must also be rich in phytoplankton.

Another constraint is the need for the right kind of rolling places for grooming, such as short grass, sandbanks, earth banks and flat rocks adjacent to the water. They keep land travel to a minimum - spraint is seldom found more than 15' (5m) from the bank - and establish well-worn runs or pathways on the shortest routes between bodies of water if necessary. The places where they go in and out of the water becomes worn smooth, and are often called slides. These otters establish large, smelly latrines near the rolling place, with masses of faeces and urine scattered liberally about.

They frequently den in holes in the ground, under rocks, tree roots, and in dense vegetation near the water.

Spotted-Necked Otter