Background Switcher (Hidden)

Giant Amazon Otter!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I thought I had seen the Amazon's rarest mammal in the giant anteater, but there were more amazements yet to come. Karanambu Ranch is famed as a rehabilitation/rescue site for orphaned giant otter cubs, in the singular person of Diane McTurk. Diane is one of those people whom you meet, look at and instantly wish you could multiply somehow, to spread all that knowledge and caring around for awhile longer. There's no better way to learn an animal than to live with it, and Diane has been mama to multitudes of orphaned and kidnapped giant otter cubs. Through them, she's come to know the animal as no one else on the planet does. Upon arriving at Karanambu, we were taken down to the banks of the Rupununi to meet two of Diane's charges, who were swimming freely in the river under the eye of an Amerindian attendant .

I was confused upon seeing my first semi-wild otter in South America. But for some eye and nose issues, it looked very much like our North American river otter (Lutra canadensis). If this was a giant otter, it must be a baby. I stared and stared, trying to reconcile what I was seeing with what I had been expecting to see. It was a gorgeous little thing.

As became abundantly clear in just a few moments, this was not a giant Amazon otter, but a Neotropical river otter, Lontra longicaudus. A life mammal, to be sure, and endangered (CITES Appendix 1). It was out of habitat here in this silty, slow-moving river, having been brought to Diane as a purported giant otter from an unknown locale. Neotropical river otters inhabit clearer, faster-flowing streams than do giant Amazonian otters. Nevertheless, Diane accepted it and raised it, and it has given vital companionship to the star of the show and central focus of Diane's life work.

First peek of the giant Amazon otter, Pteronura b. brasiliensis:

Hello!Oh my! What nice pink lips you have!At this point I had been away from home for several days and was jonesing heavily for Chet Baker. This otter's googly eyes and floppy lips did something for me. If you've always had a Thing for Otters, as I have, a Boston terrier is the next best thing. And unlike otters, they're perfectly legal to keep as pets!

Nah, nothing otterlike about this dog. Couple that pining for The Bacon with the fact that I never thought I'd ever lay eyes on a giant Amazon otter, and I am in a full Science Chimp swoon.

to be continued...


You are speaking directly to me, aren't you? Two new (to me)otter species and Chet Baker in one post. (Still in recovery from the fecal broth post.) I must have died at some point during the day, and this is heaven. With more to look forward to? Aiyiyi.

and muchas gracias for continuing to share this safari with everyone...just one shining wonder after another...


Why do you think I capitalized a Thing for Otters? Pure Wendi!
We call Baker Ottermouth and Otterthroat all the time.
Th' Bacon is licking his icy paws after a long hike with the kids and me. Snow day!
Thanks so much for your words of appreciation. The otter thing goes all next week. You'll be rolling around!

Back again. I had to look at these photos some more. That first peek...I'm just marvelling at the spiky vibrissae above the surface of the water. Hee! The "whiskers" up top are also called vibrissae, right?

I saw a PBS or Explorer episode about giant river otters and I'm pretty sure Diane was in it. From what I recall, she's a very special person. I'm looking forward to hearing more about your experiences with these critically endangered animals.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing the otters home--meaning, as close as most will get to this wonderful creature.

I, too, have a thing for otters. The only place around here I have ever found them is in Indiana at Muskatatuck.
Just a bump in the surface of the water.
But they were there!

I want one.
Otters Will Travel?

I love otters as well. Getting to spend a week with them each year at Rainbow River is good for my soul. But, do you have to keep throwing out these cliff hangers? I want more!

Bacon's lips are more delicious but
Otters are special to me. Like Manatees. Nothing but sweetness in their faces. Your photos made me swoon...

More? I can't imagine more. I'm ready!

Otterly enchanting... (especially after a post about poo)

Hola Julie,
Such great shots! Otters are so beautiful!

I scrolled down under Baker to see that otter emerge from the water.... drats! :c) Waiting with bated breath...

I promise you all lavish piles of ottritude in my Sunday afternoon post. I know you want it all at once--me too! but I had to divide my giant gobs of otter photos somehow!

They are such appealing animals. I'm endlessly grateful to have made their acquaintance and to be able to share them with you.

I'm with Jayne--so continue already. It's Saturday--I have waited since Thursday.
Enough with the waiting--continue. . . please!

Send money now.


As I was scrolling down the page, the picture of the otter swimming reminded me of Chet too. I'm looking forward to more otter pictures from your trip.

[Back to Top]