To eat or not to eat: ingestion and avoidance of fecal content from communal latrines of Lontra longicaudis (Olfers, 1818)

Izabela Laurentino, Rafael Sousa, Gilberto Corso, Renata Sousa-Lima


Communal latrines have important biological and ecological roles for the latrine builder species and for other taxa that visit these sites and use feces to obtain nutrients and microorganisms that aid in digestion of compounds hard to process. Nonetheless, coprophagous animals must deal with the costs associated with parasites and other pathogens
present in latrines. Parasites and pathogens are found in Neotropical otter latrines. This species is carnivorous and uses latrines for territorial marking. The objective of this study was to identify vertebrate species associated with otter latrines and species that use feces as food resource. Latrines were monitored with camera traps on a monthly basis in 24-hour cycles. We recorded nine species of vertebrates, including birds, reptiles and mammals, visiting the latrines. Feeding dependency from latrines in the Atlantic Forest may not be related to periods of low food availability (dry season). Visitors that ate at the latrines do not have the same feeding habits as otters. The assumption that mammals would avoid ingesting disease-loaded feces from latrines did not hold, since two mammal species did. We speculate these mammals might be more resistant or less susceptible to pathogens found in otter feces.


Neotropical otter, diet, feces, nutrient cycling, infection, disease

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