Giant otter resting on river bank

Giant river otter

Giant river otters are endemic to South America and live in the river systems of the Orinoco, Amazon and La Plata. They operate in family groups of up to nine individuals comprised of a breeding pair and their offspring. Known locally as ‘river wolves’, these otters are highly skilled predators, catching a diet primarily of fish and rarely small caiman and snakes are taken.

They have a staggering nine different vocalizations, the purpose of which are yet to be fully realised, though it’s likely they serve as predator warning signals and contact calls. As one of South America’s top carnivores giant otters have few natural predators, except occasionally for jaguars, pumas and caiman.

Scientific name: Pteronura brasiliensis

Rank: Species

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Map showing the distribution of the Giant river otter taxa

Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.

The Giant river otter can be found in a number of locations including: Amazon Rainforest, South America. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Giant river otter distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status


  1. EX - Extinct
  2. EW
  3. CR - Threatened
  4. EN - Threatened
  5. VU - Threatened
  6. NT
  7. LC - Least concern

Population trend: Decreasing

Year assessed: 2008

Classified by: IUCN 3.1


  1. Life
  2. Animals
  3. Vertebrates
  4. Mammals
  5. Carnivora
  6. Weasel family
  7. Pteronura
  8. Giant river otter

BBC News about Giant river otter