Catching up with the “river wolves”
Hello everyone! It’s Allie from the Carnivore Team, here to teach you some interesting facts about giant river otters! At Zoo Atlanta, we have two giant river otters: Tocantins, our female, is 13 years old, while Bakairi, our male, is 10 years old. They are called giant otters because they are the longest of all otter species. Their average length, measured from nose to tail, ranges from just under 5 to more than 6 feet long! Native to the wetlands, rivers, and rainforests of South America, giant river otters are highly aquatic and exceptionally fast swimmers. This innate ability allows them to catch fish and other snacks with ease. Tocantins and Bakairi are quite active and can often be seen swimming, rolling around in the leaves, or wrestling. After their much-needed snacktime is over, our full and sleepy otters will often snuggle up to each other for a long afternoon nap. Sometimes they can be spotted fast asleep in very strange and uncomfortable sleeping positions, making them some of the most endearing and even humorous animals at the Zoo.
The giant river otter is categorized as a mustelid, which is a mammalian group that encompasses weasels, mink, badgers, skunks, etc. All mustelids have a strong, musky-smelling scent gland at the base of their tails. Otters are social animals that work together through grooming, hunting, resting, and communicating. Did you know that otters can create nine different vocalizations? The giant river otters at Zoo Atlanta often vocalize to their care team and sometimes even our visitors that they want food, despite the fact that they are fed three to five times every single day! They definitely let us know when they are hungry for more. Last fact! In South America, the giant river otter is known as the “river wolf” because it is one of the top predators in its aquatic ecosystem. Isn’t that amazing? They are the wolves of the water! Thank you all for reading! I hope you come out and safely visit us and the otters soon!
Keeper I, Mammals