Grooming is very important to river otters. They must keep their coats clean so that they stay water-resistant. When an otter leaves the water it will roll around to dry itself. Sometimes the otter ends up with soil caked on its fur. Then, it will scratch with its hind legs and claws. The otter then scratches its head and around its eyes, muzzle and ears. Its webbed feet are used to remove food from between the teeth (no easy "feet"). Social bonding occurs when Giant Otters groom each other. Mated pairs do this often. When done, they will lay side-by-side with a paw over each other nose-to-tail and their heads resting on each other's backs.
Giant River Otters are at the top of the rainforest food chain, and are not threatened by any natural predators. They used to be quite common throughout South America, but are now one of the most endangered species in the rainforest. Otters are primarily endangered because of habitat destruction and water pollution. Many efforts are underway to protect Giant River Otters. The are now a protected species, and it is illegal to hunt them, though some illegal hunting still occurs.
For more information, check out these websites.
Wilderness Classroom's Rainforest Library
Otter Net, a site created by 4th grade students working to protect the Giant River Otter
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