With webbed feet making trips onto land somewhat awkward, the spot-necked otter, unlike the clawless otters, rarely ventures more than ten metres from water (2) (6). Instead, most of the daytime, when this otter is most active, is spent in shallow waters where fish are abundant. Fish comprise the bulk of the spot-necked otters’ prey, with species of cichlid, barbel and catfish being particular favourites. Other prey such as crabs, frogs and insects are only important when fish are scarce, except in South Africa where these groups form a much more significant component of its diet (2). Although spot-necked otters sometimes form large groups of up to 20, individuals normally hunt for food alone (2) (5) (6). Whilst hunting, this otter performs short, agile dives from the surface, twisting and turning energetically to catch prey with its mouth, which is then eaten in the water or taken to the shore (2).
The spot-necked otter is not territorial, but like other otter species it tends to urinate and defecate in a regular place, such as a rock just above the waters’ surface. During the night, when this species is largely inactive, it will take shelter in concealed places such as dense vegetation, rock cavities or dens dug into the shore bank (2).
Breeding takes place at different times of the year across the spot-necked otters’ range, with between one and three cubs born after a gestation period of around three months (2) (3). The young are born blind and remain with their mother, who provides all the parental care, for up to a year (2)