There are 13 different types of Otters spread between 5 Genera.
All of the Different Otters are Special & Interesting in their own way.
Learn All About them Below!
The Lutra Genus
1. Eurasian Otter
Lutra Lutra: The Eurasian otter can be found on both coasts as well as in rivers. They can be found all over Europe in countries like Spain, Greece & France. The Eurasian Otters live life alone & only spend time with others of their kind during mating season. They eat mostly fish, but will also dine on frogs and various small mammals. Their Feet are Webbed to help their swimming.
2. Sea Cat
Lutra Felina: There is not much known about the Sea Cat Otter, which is a severely endangered species of otter. They can be found on various Pacific Ocean coasts from Peru down to South America. It is truly a shame that humans have gone and hunted them to near extinction.
3. Neotropical Otter
Lutra Longicaudis: The Neotropical Otter is the most widespread otter species in Central & South America. Each otter requires a very large territory because they prefer to live life alone just like the Eurasian Otter. Sadly, This is another otter species that are classified as endangered.
4. Spotted-Necked Otter
Lutra Maculicollis: You can find the Spotted-necked Otter in all African countries except those with a rainforest environment. They form large male and female groups that stay separate for most of their lives, only to come together during the mating season. There have been fossils of the spotted-necked otter that have been dated 26 million years old!
5. Smooth-coated Otter
Lutra Perspicillata: The Smooth-Coated Otter is found all over Asia, including countries like Indonesia and China. This particular species is classified as vulnerable- meaning that they are at high risk to be victims of hunting & are in jeopardy of nearing extinction. They live alongside the Asian Short-clawed Otter as they reside in the same general areas & fight for the same types of food. Their body types & social structures are extremely similar as well.
6. Hairy-nosed Otter
Lutra Sumatrana: These Otters have hairy noses to help them detect their prey when hunting in water with low visibility. This species was once widespread throughout southern Thailand, Malaysia & Indonesia. Humans had thought to have hunted them to extinction in the late 1990’s, but the International Otter Survival Fund (IOSF) found surviving Hairy-nosed Otters in Thailand & Vietnam. It is sad but true that humans have led to the near extinction of multiple species of Otters, & the IOSF is the leading group fighting to save these beautiful animals from disappearing.
The Aonyx Genus
7. Cape Clawless Otter
Aonyx Capensis: Yet another endangered otter species, this one can be found in South Africa. Interestingly enough, the Cape clawless otter has 3 sharp claws on only its rear-middle toes. This was most likely developed as an adaptation to its habitat. The Cape Clawless otter forms small family groups, which they stay in for the duration of their adult lives.
8. Asian Small-Clawed Otter
Aonyx Cinerea: The smallest of all 13 otter species, they measure from 26-37 inches when fully grown. They form large family groups in southern and eastern Asia, with each family group usually consisting of one Adult breeding pair & their multi-generational offspring. Like many human couples, Asian Small-Clawed Otters Mate for life! The Asian Small-Clawed Otter uses it’s webbed feet to catch prey and is the Only Species to use Rocks as tools. Their diet primarily consists of fish, crabs & other crustaceans- though they do eat small mammals, snakes & even frogs. They can weigh from 2 to 12 lbs with an average lifespan of 10-15 years, though some have been reported to live past 20 years of age.
9. Congo Clawless Otter
Aonyx Congica: The Congo Otter is the least aquatic otter of all. The Congo otter is closely related to the Cape Clawless Otter but usually doesn’t have the same fur or pattern of webbing on their feet. They are found in Central Africa but inhabit only small mountain streams & lowland swamps. They are thought to be more terrestrial than other otters, with a single Congo Otter maintaining its own territory which they mark using scent & relentless patrol.
The Lontra Genus
10. Southern River Otter:
Lontra Provocax: This little known Otter species is critically endangered, sadly it has been hunted to near extinction by humans. Luckily this species is still hanging on, residing in parts of Chile & Argentina.
11. American River Otter
Lontra Canadensis: This is the US version of the Eurasian Otter. The American River Otter is found throughout America along with its various waterways as well as both the east and west coasts. A full grown American river otter can weigh between 11 and 30 pounds.
The Other Genera
12. Sea Otter
Enhydra Lutris: The Sea Otter spends basically all of its time swimming in the ocean. It even completes mating season & gives birth to its babies in the ocean. When they do breach land, it is only for a short grooming session – then back to the ocean! The Sea Otter mother rests her baby on her belly while floating on her back. Each night when they sleep, the sea otter attaches to seaweed by rolling itself up inside, in order not to float away. The Mother also does this to the baby pups when they need to go hunting– See our article about this here. This comes in handy when the ocean waves act up. Another unique characteristic of the Sea Otter is the fact that they carry a favorite rock in a special “rock pouch“. These are basically special folds of its skin that allows the rock to be secured & easily accessed when needed to crack open some food like shellfish or abalone. Sea Otters are endangered, again due to the over-hunting by humans yearning to acquire more of their amazingly nice, dense fur. They are now protected and are no longer allowed to be hunted, so their population is slowly on the rise.
13. Giant Otter
Pteronura Brasiliensis : Giant Otters live in big groups & can be found in the waterways of the Amazon. Giant Otters are very loud, they tend to “talk” to one another as well as surrounding animals in the area. Their most common way to talk to each other is by making an assortment of whistling noises. They grow to be the largest of any otter species, by far. They are known to be the meanest of all otter species, and are often preying on other animals for food. They are the most out of the ordinary looking species of otter. As you can see, they have an odd look to them! That being said, we love them all the same.