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Spot-necked Otter (Hydrictis maculicollis) Fact Sheet: Diet & Feeding


 Feeds primarily on fish but also eat crabs and frogs. (Somers & Purves 1996)

  • Cichlid fish (Haplochromis) in Lake Muhazi, Rwanda and in Lake Victoria, Tanzania. (Kruuk 2006) (Procter 1963)
  • Crabs (Potamonautes), fish, and even insect larvae in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa (fish not plentiful there).
  • Introduced trout not as easily captured as indigenous fish; not hunted when native species are available.(Perrin & Carranza 2000)

May eat fish as large as themselves (observed in Lake Victoria). (Reed-Smith 2009)

Water snails eaten in Lake Victoria while the otter swims on its back. (Procter 1963)

May accumulate significant organochlorines and other contaminants. (Mason & Rowe-Rowe 1992)

  • Vulnerable due to position at top of aquatic food chain.

Two species of clawless otters live in same habitats along Lake Victoria (Kruuk & Goudswaard 1990)

  • These two eat mostly crabs
  • Can co-exist with spot-necked otters.


Smaller fish eaten while still in the water:

  • Otter swims on back
  • Holds fish out of water to eat
  • May also tread water with fish in mouth. (Procter 1963)

Adept at catching fish between sticks and rocks, not in open water. (Kruuk 2006)

Reaches for food with mouth, neck and body

  • Other otters such as the short-clawed otter use arms and hands to take food. (Kruuk 2001)

Often forage in groups but each otter hunts for itself. (Kruuk 2006)

  • Groups may be composed of up to 20 individuals or as few as five.


Spot-necked otter with fish

African Spot-necked Otter "Pori" grabs a fish in the deep pool.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.

Page Citations

Kruuk (2001, 2006)
Kruuk & Goudswaard (1990)
Perrin & Carranza (2000)
Procter (1963)
Rowe-Rowe & Sommers (1998)
Somers & Purves (1996)

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