April 20, 2024

Behaviors of the Solitary Neotropical Otter (Lontra longicaudis) in Communal Latrines


Izabela C. Laurentino, Rafael T. M. Sousa, Gilberto Corso, Bruno Lobão-Soares, and Renata S. Sousa-Lima


Document: Article

Abstract: Latrines are important sites for intraspecific olfactory communication in mammals, especially for solitary or widely distributed species. Communal latrines give visitors access to information about other visitors, notably conspecific chemical cues, even in their absence. Chemical communication has evolved to allow information transfer among individuals that, due to other ecological constraints, do not co-occur in time. Latrines can be difficult to find and monitor but provide useful information about the behavioral ecology of otters. The aim of this study was to describe the behaviors of Neotropical otters (Lontra longicaudis, Olfers, 1818) in two communal latrines using video-camera traps. A total of 1,651 one-minute footage of otters visiting the latrines were used to elaborate an ethogram that included individuals (1) passing by, (2) rubbing, (3) scent marking, (4) scratching, (5) in vigilance, (6) smelling, (7) defecating, (8) urinating, (9) digging, (10) self-grooming, and (11) interacting with others. These results suggest that latrines are not only used by Neotropical otters to deposit feces and urine but that they also play a role in intraspecific communication. We suggest that L. longicaudis latrines function as information centers where individuals can monitor the location and activities of potential sexual partners and/or competitors.

Key Words: behavior, ethogram, video-camera trap, latrines, Neotropical otter, Lontra longicaudis, mammals

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1578/AM.49.3.2023.265

Page Numbers: 265-273


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