Diet analysis of Smooth-coated otter


Human-modified mangrove areas form an important habitat for the Smooth-coated Otter while also supporting Goa’s traditional inland artisanal fisheries, often creating opportunities for otters humans interaction. This project aimed to understand the prey base of the Smooth-coated Otter (Lutrogale perspicillata) and the overlap of this prey base with inland fisheries across seven mangrove habitats in Mandovi-Zuari estuarine complex in Goa.


The prey species of the Smooth-coated otter were identified from a total of 242 scat samples collected across these seven locations. The diet analysis confirmed that fish (60.70%) was the preferred food of choice, followed by prawns (23.34%) and crab (14.52%). Snakes, molluscs and ghost shrimp also featured in the diet but in negligible quantities. Diet was seen to vary across the seven study sites. For example, High proportions of crab (43.07%) were found in scats from Amona (n=40), and of prawn (50.24%) in Britona (n=19). This variation in diet across the seven study sites suggests opportunistic feeding and dietary flexibility by the species.


Fifty three verbal surveys with fishermen in these locations revealed that otters interacted with their fishing practices by fishing net depredation, damaging fishing nets, and depleting fish in man-made fishing pools at sluice gates locally called “manas”. Some fishermen said they took preventive measures such as chasing the otters away when they approached their fishing nets. Most of the interviewed fishermen considered otter interaction with fisheries inevitable, as otters are part of the landscape. Pieces of fishing net were found in 19 of the 242 scat samples, substantiating the fishermen’s reports of net depredation by otters.