One of the Okavango Delta's most playful inhabitants, Spotty Necked otters often give tourists hours of pleasure as they feed, frolic and play in the lagoons and backwaters.
Spotty Necked Otters (Lutra maculicollis)
are one of three species of otters found in Africa. They are about 3 - 4 feet long and have slim slender bodies and fully developed webbed feet. They have long sharp claws to help them grip fish. They are chestnut brown on top and have distinctive dark spots on their chests. As with many spotted animals, each set of spots is unique.
Spotty Necked Otters can be found in the permanent channels and lagoons of the Okavango where the water is clear. The Otters prefer clear water as they hunt by sight. Their diet mainly consists of fish, frogs, crabs and invertebrates. They will often catch a fish and then go and perch on a log or rock where they can pin the fish down with their claws and eat it. They usually eat the fish from the tail first
, and if the fish is big will often discard the head.
They are very playful animals, and you could spend hours watching their playful antics. They may even hunt when they have eaten enough, just for the thrill of the chase. They then often play with the fish
, tossing it back and forth, catching it and frolicking. Spotty Necked Otters are often solitary, but may occur in groups of up to six at a time.
They are very good swimmers and spend most of their time in the water. They have very little fat, and instead are protected in the water by their thick coat. This has led to them being hunted for their pelt
in many parts of Southern Africa. Their natural predators are Crocodiles and Pythons which they encounter in their aquatic environment.
They seldom stray far from the water as they tend to get very hot. They are fairly awkward on land, as they are so adapted for swimming.
They build shelters called Holts near the water's edge. They usually breed in September and the mother gives birth to three cubs. She will feed and look after these cubs for up to year, before they leave the shelter, which is called a holt.
You will find them all over the Delta where ever there a clear lagoons of permanent water. The best time to see them id in the early morning or at twilight when is when they are feeding and at their most active. They are often solitary, but may occur in groups of up to six
- it is always a wonderful experience to watch them playing together.