Periódicos Brasileiros em Medicina Veterinária e Zootecnia

Feeding habits of giant otters Pteronura brasiliensis (Carnivora: Mustelidae) in the Balbina hydroelectric reservoir, Central Brazilian Amazon

M. M. Cabral, MárciaZuanon, JansenE. de Mattos, GáliaC. W. Rosas, Fernando

This study aimed to identify the diet of giant otters, Pteronura brasiliensis (Zimmermann, 1780) in the Balbina reservoir (01º55'S, 59º29'W), to compare it with literature data on the diet of giant otters from non-dammed areas, and to verify the effects of the seasonal changes in water levels on the feeding habits of Balbina otters. A total of 254 feces samples were collected and identified according to the lowest possible taxonomic level. Teleostei fish were present in 100% of the samples; two samples also presented monkey fur (n = 1) and sloth fur (n = 1), suggesting that the diet of P. brasiliensis, in the reservoir, is almost exclusively based on fish. Ten fish families were identified in our samples, six of which were exclusive to the Balbina Lake (not present in the diet of giant otters from non-dammed areas). These six fish families, however, were present in less than 3% of the samples. The fish families with highest representation in the diet of giant otters from non-dammed areas also appeared with higher frequencies in the Balbina Lake, suggesting that the otters have not changed their diet substantially after the implementation of the reservoir. During the high-water period, when the fish are dispersed into the flooded forest and are not very easy to catch, the otters seem to have an opportunistic feeding habit. By contrast, during the low-water period, when prey items are widely available and easier to catch in the reservoir, their feeding habits are more selective.

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