Also known as the Oriental Small Clawed Otter or the Malaysian Small Clawed
Otter. The Asian Small-clawed Otter is the smallest of all otters, measuring a
mere 65-90cm, and hardly ever reaching 5kg. Unlike the Eurasian Otter its
front feet are only partially webbed, but it has short claws for digging in the
mud and lifting rocks. If you ever get close to an Asian Small-clawed Otter take
a look at its front feet closely: they are masters at using these front paws to
catch prey, and are the only mammals other than the primates to use these with
almost human dexterity. They are very group orientated, and as many as 15 can
be seen together although it is more common to find groups of 4-8. Their
birdlike squeaks help them to locate each other in the wild, but their social
vocabulary goes much further than this and they have developed something like 12
or more different calls.
Research has shown that the groups are composed of a dominant pair together with offspring from successive litters and it is thought that the males and females pair for life. They have large litters of 4 or 5 cubs, and can produce 2 litters per year, with commonly both parents bringing up the young; however, unlike the Eurasian Otter they are not very good at rearing these young.
Asian Small-clawed Otters live in a variety of diverse habitats from mangrove swamps to small streams and marshy areas, searching for crabs and small fish. They are largely nocturnal, returning to the cover of the bankside vegetation during the day.
Troubles exist in Asia for these otters: they are killed for their pelts and for their organs which are believed to have medicinal value. Also there are threats due to pollution and habitat destruction. The activities of many western logging companies result in siltation of the waterways and damage to streams used by these otters.
Distribution of the Asian Small-clawed Otter (Aonyx cinereus)
Data based on Otters of the World (IOSF 2015)
The International Otter Survival Fund (IOSF) is one of the world's leading otter charities. In the UK IOSF is the only charity solely dedicated to the conservation, protection and care of otters based on over 20 years of scientific research in the UK and around the world.
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