The diet composition of the African clawless otter (Aonyx capensis) was studied by analyzing of 440 spraint samples collected during January, 2014 and December, 2015 in both dry and wet seasons from eight sites in and around Lake Tana, North West Ethiopia. Percentage frequency of occurrence and relative percentage frequency of diet items in the spraint samples were calculated.The statistical analysis was conducted using chi-square and one-way ANOVA tests.The number of diet categories per spraint ranged from 1 to 4 with a mean of 1.42 ± 0.591. Fish was the dominant prey item in all sites with an overall frequency of occurrence of 84.77% and a relative percentage frequency of 59.68%. Labeobarbus spp. was the most frequent fish prey (35.45%). Crabs were the second most frequent prey items with percentage frequency of 33.41% and a relative percentage frequency of 23.52%, while small mammals and birds were the least frequent dietary items with percentage frequency of 0.45 and 0.23%, respectively. Other identified diet items and the respective percentage frequency were plant matter (6.17%), insects (5.68%), amphibians (5%), mollusks (2.5%) and unidentified items (3.86%). Variation on fish and crab prey items were observed between seasons and sites, while no variation was observed for other prey items. The results suggested a dietary flexibility and shift in the African clawless otter from crabs to fish that can be explained by availability and accessibility.
Key words: African clawless otter, Aonyx capensis, food items, Lake Tana.
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