This otter species relies on clear water for visual hunting in rivers and lakes.
Head and body: 60-65cm. Tail: 35-40cm. Weight 4-6.5kg.
A sleek, slender otter with a long tail and webbed, clawed toes. Apart from the brown and white blotching of the throat and under parts, which is very variable, the colour is a uniform, deep chocolate brown.
Scattered thinly over the wetter parts of sub-Saharan Africa, but may be locally common in the Great Lakes and some wet montane regions.
As a diurnal fisher, clear water is an important determinant in spot-necked otter distribution. It is present in mountain streams but absent from many fish-rich turbid rivers in East Africa. It is also absent from all shallow lakes of the Eastern Rift.
Fish and frogs - also crabs, molluscs, aquatic insects and larvae, and various other vertebrates and invertebrates.
Spot-necked otters can form small close-knit family groups, often hunting together. At other times they can be solitary.
Females give birth in burrows after a gestation period of two months. The young - up to three cubs - will stay with their mother for nearly a year.
This otter is classed as Vulnerable on the IUCN red data list due to an observed decline in its distributional range. Although netting and trapping play a part, increased turbidity of river water (due to soil erosion) is a real threat.
Spot-necked otters can be very vocal, though a thin, high whistle is the most characteristic call.