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OttersEcology, behaviour and conservation$
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Hans Kruuk

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780198565871

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198565871.001.0001

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Scent marking and interactions: social behaviour

Scent marking and interactions: social behaviour

(p.78) Chapter 6 Scent marking and interactions: social behaviour

Hans Kruuk

Oxford University Press

Olfactory communication is important; in all but sea otters, faeces (‘spraints’) are used for scent-marking. In Eurasian otters this is highly seasonal, associated with feeding and food availability, enabling spacing-out between individuals. Vocal communication is elaborate, especially in gregarious species; giant otters use underwater vocalizations. Aggressive behaviour in Eurasian otters is inter- and intra-sexual, with fights mostly between males. Sexual behaviour is described. In almost all species only the female is involved in parental care, which is very prolonged (often more than 1 year) compared with similar-sized carnivores. The sea otter carries one single cub, showing great attachment. Eurasian otter cubs reach maximum fishing efficiency after almost 2 yrs. The long dependency is likely related to the problems of catching fish, and it affects population dynamics.

Keywords:   scent communication, spraints, seasonality, vocalizations, aggression, parental behaviour, cub dependency

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