The spot-necked otter can easily be distinguished from other species of African otter by their characteristic white markings and spots on their chin and neck. They are generally solitary in nature but in certain conditions have been known to exist in small family groups.
Like all otters, the spot-necked otter is brilliantly adapted for catching fish. It has a long streamlined body to help it swim fast. Its body is covered in a dense water-repellent fur. It has fully webbed paws, long claws and small teeth to help it catch its prey. The spot-necked otter is fairly clumsy on land and is more aquatic than many other otter species.
Belfast Zoo is currently one of only two zoos in Europe to keep this beautiful species of otter.
Diet - Piscivore/carnivore
Spot-necked otters eat fish but will also eat crabs, molluscs, aquatic insects, small birds and small mammals.
Its body length ranges from 85 to 105 centimetres and weight ranges between four and six and a half kilograms.
Spot-necked otters are found in a variety of fresh water habitats such as large lakes, rivers and swamps in sub-Saharan Africa.
The IUCN considers that the spot-necked otter is not yet threatened with extinction in the wild.
Habitat destruction and the degradation of freshwater habitats are the biggest threats to spot-necked otters. They are also hunted for their food or skin.
Despite current concerns, the spot-necked otter still has a colossal range and the rate of population decline is not considered to be too severe.
There are approximately 27 spot necked otters found in zoos worldwide.