Dedicated to the conservation, protection and care of otters
Visit the Otter Shop : Join our mailing list

About Otters

Otter images

Otter Species

Otters around the world

Skye Wildlife Sightings

The Mustelid Family

Otter Watch

African Otters

Asian Otters

Otter-like animals have inhabited the earth for the last 30 million years and over the years have undergone subtle changes to the carnivore bodies to exploit the rich aquatic environment.

Otters are members of the Mustelid family which includes badgers, polecats, martens, weasels, stoats and mink.

You can find out more about each of the 13 species below and check out their current conservation status in the Red Data List.

You can find out more about each species in “Otters of the World” available at the Ottershop.

Congo Clawless Otter (Aonyx congicus)

SIZE 1.3 to 1.5m
WEIGHT 13.6 to 18.1 kg
DIET Earthworms, frogs, freshwater crabs, mud dwelling fish.
GESTATION Unknown
OFFSPRING Number of cubs born is unknown
HOME RANGE Unknown
PHYSICAL FEATURES Closely related to African Clawless Otter and very similar. Silver tips to the end of hairs on the neck and head and dark patches of fur between the eyes and nostrils. Least adapted of all otters to aquatic way of life and has short fur providing less insulation. The back feet are only partly webbed and the front have no webbing at all.
SPECIAL ABILITIES Very dextrous, using digits on front paws like fingers to extract snails from their shell
DISTRIBUTION Found in central equatorial Africa in the Congo Basin but very patchy distribution.
HABITAT It lives exclusively in marshes and shallow margins of lakes and is the most terrestrial species of otter.
CONSERVATION STATUS: Near Threatened Click here
THREATS TO THE SPECIES One of the least known otter species. Hunted for bush meat and skins, habitat loss and degradation, reduced fish stocks because of overfishing, pollution. Because they are very terrestrial they are more vulnerable to snares set on land.
COMMUNICATION Various vocalisations
SOCIAL STRUCTURE Unknown

A lot more has been learned since two cubs came into care in Kikongo, Democratic Republic of Congo. They have revealed a lot more information on behaviour and are acting as ambassadors to encourage otter conservation.


Wild Congo Clawless Otter


Back foot showing slight webbing – the claws are shed when the animal gets older.


Using “fingers” to extract snails

Distribution of the Congo Clawless Otter (Aonyx congicus)

Data based on Otters of the World (IOSF 2015)

More information on the African Otters Group

Eurasian Otter (Lutra lutra)
African Clawless Otter (Aonyx capensis)
Spotted Necked Otter (Hydrictis maculicollis formerly Lutra maculicollis)