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Abstract and Summary

Play-fighting constituted most of the social play recorded in a captive group of oriental small-clawed otters, Amblonyx cinerea. Frame by frame inspection of ciné film was used for detailed analyses of these behaviours. Two aspects of the organization of play-fighting were analysed. In the first, biting, it was found that in dyadic play-fights the opponents attempted to bite one another on the head, especially on the cheeks, and in this way subdue the opponent. When other otters joined a play-fighting pair they would attack the member of the pair who was subdued (i.e. the defender). Biting by these secondary attackers was mainly directed to the defender's hindlegs and rump. Therefore, biting by otters attempting to subdue the opponent, and biting by otters of an already subdued opponent, differed markedly.

In the second aspect of play-fighting, it was found that for both attacking and defending otters the mouth was opened most frequently when facing the opponent's cheek or when face to face. The former appeared to be related to the body site most often bitten and the latter to manoeuvring when attempting to bite one another. Therefore, the opened-mouth face was difficult to distinguish from bite intention.

Zusammenfassung

Spielerisches Kämpfen machte den Hauptteil geselligen Spielens aus, das von einer gefangen gehaltenen Gruppe orientalischer kleinklauiger Otter (Amblonyx cinerea) aufgezeichnet wurde. Einzelbild-Analysen von Schmalfilmen ergaben folgendes:

Beißen zielte in Zweierkämpfen auf den Kopf, besonders in die Backen des Gegners. Kamen andere Otter dazu, so griffen sie den unterliegenden Kämpfer an und richteten ihr Beißen hauptsächlich auf seine Hinterbeine und seinen Rumpf.

Sowohl angreifende wie sich verteidigende Otter öffneten das Maul am häufigsten dann, wenn sie die Wange oder das ganze Gesicht des Gegners vor sich hatten. Das ergibt sich manchmal, wenn das Tier manövriert, um zum Biß zu kommen und muß nicht eine unmittelbare Beißabsicht anzeigen.