IUCN Otter Specialist Group . . . leading global otter conservation Last Update: Sunday February 22, 2015
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Lontra provocax (Thomas, 1908), the Southern River Otter (currently being revised)

:: Lontra provocax

Click on the images below to see more of this species
Huillin looks at camera
Huillin watches camera
Huillin swimming
Huillin swimming
Huillin swimming
Huillin swimming
Huillin swimming



This species looks like the North American River Otter, but appears to be smaller. It is highly endangered and rare, and very little is known about it. It is known locally as the Huillin. José Luis Bartheld sent us these lovely pictures of this otter.

CITES Identification Sheet


The southern river otter is a freshwater species. Rest and den sites are found in areas with dense vegetation and an abundance of above-ground roots, small rocks or broken stones, which provide suitable crevices from which the animal can view the adjacent water without being exposed.


L. provocax once had an extensive distribution from the Cauquenes and Cachapoal Rivers to the Magellan region in Chile. Now it is restricted to seven isolated areas from Cautín to Futaleufú.

Conservation Status

Red List Category Endangered, Decreasing
Year Assessed 2014
Assessor Sepulveda, M.,
Evaluators Hussain, S.A. (Otter Red List Authority)

Accelarating habitat destruction and degradation troughout the southern river otter's range is the greatest threat to this species and is estimated to potentially lead to a future > 50% reduction in population size in those populations using rivers and lakes (freshwater habitats). An accelerated growth of fish farming could potentially lead to a future reduction around 50% of population size from those populations using the southern fjords and islands (marine habitats) of Chile over the next 10 years.

(Source: IUCN Red List)

Current Concerns

Populations have been confirmed in only seven isolated areas all of which are threatened by a variety of factors including the removal of river bank vegetation, dam construction, river and stream canalization, and dredging which has recently become one of the most serious threats to otter habitat. Furthermore, the large scale of forest destruction in southern Chile may be affecting several of the freshwater habitats through severe flooding and deposition of soil on the river beds. L. provocax is listed in the Chilean Red Data Book of Vertebrates as being in danger of extinction. It is also listed as `Endangered' in the Argentine National Wildlife List.
Links to Other Sources

Leading Researchers

Maximiliano Sepúlveda, Claudio Ernesto Chehébar, Gonzalo Medina Vogel, José Luis Bartheld

Key Publications


  • Harris, C.J. (1968). Otters: A Study of the Recent Lutrinae. Weidenfeld and Nicholson, London
  • Larivière, S. (1999). Lontra provocax. Mammalian Species, 610: 1-4 + 3 figs


  • Aued, M.B., Chéhebar, C., Porro, G., Macdonald, D.W., & Cassini, M.H. (2003). Environmental Correlates Of The Distribution Of Southern River Otters Lontra Provocax At Different Ecological Scales. Oryx, 37 (4): 413-421
  • Cassini, M.H. and Sepúlveda, M.A., Eds. (2006). El Huillin Lontra provocax: Investigaciones sobre una nutria amenazada en peligro de extincion. Serie Fauna Neotropical 1, Publicacion de la Organizacion PROFAUNA, Buenos Aires, 162 pp.
  • Gonzalo Medina-Vogel, Vera S. Kaufman, Rene Monsalve & Vicente Gómez (2003). The relationship between riparian vegetation, woody debris, stream morphology, human activity and the use of rivers by southern river otter in Chile. Oryx 37(4): 422 – 430.
  • Medina, G. (1998). Seasonal Variations And Changes In The Diet Of Southern River Otter In Different Freshwater Habitats In Chile. Acta Theriologica, 43 (3): 285-292
  • Medina, G. (1997). A Comparison of Diet and Distribution of Southern River Otter (Lutra provocax) and Mink (Mustela vison) in Southern Chile. Journal of Zoology, 242: 291-297
  • Medina, G. (1996). Conservation And Status Of Lutra provocax In Chile. Pacific Conservation Biology 2: 414-419
  • Sepúlveda, M. A, Bartheld, J. L, Monsalve, R., Gomez, V. and Medina-Vogel, G. (2007). Habitat use and spatial behaviour by Southern river otters (Lontra provocax) in riparian habitats of Chile: Conservation implications. Biological Conservation, 140 (3-4): 329-338.

Useful Links

  • The IUCN Red List Vogel, G.M. 2004. Lontra provocax. In: IUCN 2006. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.