Otters are fluffy and cute and are known for their curiosity and playfulness. Many people don’t realize that river otters are apex predators capable of taking down dangerous animals like crocodiles.
A nature enthusiast captured a video of these cute-faced animals battling for hours and eventually taking down a caiman.
Fish is their primary diet, but giant otters have a variety of creatures on their menu, including frogs, prawns, and small snakes.
The caiman in the video is an adult. But the giant otters risk their lives and go for it because they perceive it as a threat to their young ones.
Otters’ Attack Strategy
The otters know the caiman’s strengths, including their wide mouth filled with sharp teeth, bigger size, and tough armor skin on their back. So they derive a strategy to take it down.
Their strategy includes launching a coordinated attack while targeting the caiman’s weak points, such as the underbelly and the area behind the neck. The otters dive in turns to put up a coordinated and sustained attack on the caiman’s underbelly.
The caiman tries to turn upside down to avoid the bites, but this move exposes its soft underbelly to the otters on the surface, which sink their sharp teeth to inflict maximum pain.
Caimans typically swing their mouths sideways during a fight, and the otters are careful to avoid being within their strike zone.
The primary advantage that otters have over the caiman is sustained energy. The caiman is more powerful, but its explosive energy doesn’t last long.
The gator’s sideways movement, rolling and thrashing, consumes its energy relatively fast while filling its muscles with lactic acid, eventually killing it.
Thus, the otters don’t kill the caiman directly but trigger a process that wears it down and kills it. The otters in the video sustain the attack for three hours before leaving the reptile for the dead. They lose a family member in the fight. They can be seen dragging its body away from the fight scene.
What Enables Otters to Take Down Much Larger Animals?
Otters live and hunt in tightly knit family groups led by a breeding couple. The other group members are the pair’s offspring who live with the couple until they’re ready to breed, which occurs at the age of three to five. The group size can vary, but most tend to be ten and below.
Hunting in numbers allows them to amplify their strength and sustain a fight for more extended periods.
As with many carnivorous animals, otters have strong jaw muscles and sharp teeth to tear the flesh of their prey. But their canines are shorter than most predators because their primary diet is fish.
Their premolars and molars have an uneven surface to help them grasp slippery prey like frogs, fish, and other slippery aquatic prey.
The sharp teeth help the otters grasp their prey long enough and drag them to the shore, where they kill and eat them. They also use their sharp teeth to puncture the skin of larger prey, causing them to bleed and weaken, so they can drag them out of the water.
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