Giant Otter Pteronura brasiliensis

Giant Otter Pteronura brasiliensis 12

Giant Otter Pteronura brasiliensis


Bolivia; Brazil; Colombia; Ecuador; French Guiana; Guyana; Paraguay; Peru; Suriname; Venezuela, Bolivia.

Presence Uncertain

Argentina; Uruguay

The agile and graceful tumbling Olympians of the Amazonian rivers, Giant Otters are able to swim 100 metres in less than 30 seconds. They are also known as the Lobo de Rio (the River wolf), Los Lobos del Rio (Wolves of the River) and Ariranha. They are most active in the mornings and evenings and take a siesta during the hottest parts of the day.

The most significant threats to giant otters are anthropogenic pressures of deforestation for palm oil, soy and meat, pollution from mining and climate change. They are also illegally hunted and traded for their pelts or killed in retribution by fishermen.

#GiantOtters are the agile, graceful guardians of Amazonian rivers in #SouthAmerica. #Endangered by #gold #mining, #palmoil #soy and cattle ranches. Help them in the supermarket, go #vegan and #Boycottpalmoil #Boycott4Wildlife

They are endemic to South America, with populations distributed east of the Andes in the Orinoco, Amazonas, and Parana basins, and the hydrographic networks of the Guianas. The northern limit of the Giant Otter’s distribution occurs in northern Venezuela, and the southern limit in Misiones, Argentina.


Threats are predominantly related to the river otter being pushed out of their ecosystems by anthropogenic pressures.

The destruction of the river otters’ riparian habitat, overfishing, contamination of aquatic ecosystems (especially for gold mining, fossil fuel exploration, and the use of pesticides and fertilizers for monocultures), domestic animal diseases, and mismanaged tourism It seems likely that mining activities and the widespread conversion of forest into agricultural and pasture lands will continue unabated in the near future as part of the economic development of the Amazonian countries.

Giant otters are threatened by a range of human created hazards including: the illegal pet trade, competition with fishermen, gold and fossil fuel mining and ecosystem conversion to monocultures such as palm oil and soy.


Giant otters highly social animals that are active during the day and evening. They are gregarious and live in groups of 2-20 individuals. A family has a home range of 12 sq. km. They are cooperative and peaceful together and often groom, rest and hunt together and cooperatively construct burrows and establish territories using scent markings from their anal glands to delineate territories.

They communicate through a noisy series of hums, coos, barks and whistles. Newborn pups squeak to elicit attention, while older young whine as they participate in group activities. When intruders invade their territory, the parents and other adults in communities will defend the offspring against danger.

Famously, the BBC captured a group of giant otters fending off a Black Caiman. They have also been known to harass and chase away jaguars as well in an effort to keep their young safe.

You can support this beautiful animal

Save the Giants

Wild CRU

Further Information

ICUN endangered logo

Groenendijk, J., Marmontel, M., Van Damme, P., Schenck, C., Schenck, C. & Wallace, R. 2021. Pteronura brasiliensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2021: e.T18711A164580466. Accessed on 27 August 2022.

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Published by Palm Oil Detectives

Hi, I’m Palm Oil Detective’s Editor in Chief. Palm Oil Detectives is partly a consumer website about palm oil in products and partly an online community for writers, scientists, conservationists, artists and musicians to showcase their work and express their love for endangered species. I have a strong voice for creatures great and small threatened by deforestation. With our collective power we can shift the greed of the retail and industrial agriculture sectors and through strong campaigning we can stop them cutting down forests. Be bold! Be courageous! Join the #Boycott4Wildlife and stand up for the animals with your supermarket choices

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