Habitat selection by the Cape clawless otter (Aonyx capensis) in rivers in the Western Cape Province, South Africa

Somers M.J. ; Nel J.A.J. (2004)


We radio-tracked seven Cape clawless otters (Aonyx capensis) (Schinz, 1821) in two rivers in the Western Cape Province. South Africa, providing data on their habitat selection. Habitat type was investigated at a scale that enabled us to separate the effects of types of riparian vegetation, geomorphology and anthropogenic influences. Otters selected areas with boulders and/or reed beds, which provided high crab density and shelter. Direct observations showed that they used two foraging modes depending on the habitat selected. Otters could select open water within c. 8 m of the shore, dive and surface with or without prey. Otherwise hunting involved them moving into shallow water (c. 0.2 m deep), and walking along the substrate feeling for prey with their forefeet. Disturbed possible prey items were then caught with the forefeet.

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