Asian Short Clawed Otter Fast Facts
Meet our otter family! Asian small-clawed otters are the smallest of all 13 otter species. Although they are adapted to live in the rivers, their spend most of their time on land, due to their partially webbed hands. Otters are a highly social species, communicating through sounds and scents. Each otter has a an individual scent that is as unique as human fingerprints.
Otters eat a variety of crustaceans, molluscs, fish, amphibians, invertebrates and reptiles. They have specially adapted partially-webbed feet giving them a great sense of touch and co-ordination when catching their prey. The pads of their feet are extra sensitive, to help locate food under rocks and in murky water. Otters have a fast metabolism, with food passing through their system in just a few hours, therefore, they must constantly be on the hunt for food and feed every few hours.
Otters are a highly social species, living in family groups of 15 to 20 individuals. Otters are monogamous, with the parents acting as the only breeding pair in the group. Otters can breed all year round, and work as a family to rear the pups. The whole group will help to dig nesting burrows known as holts, and gather vegetation to line the beds. After 68-72 days the female will give birth to one to six pups. The young are born with their eyes closed, which open after five weeks. They remain in the holt until they are strong enough to follow the group and will learn to swim at seven weeks old.
Threats + Conservation
Asian short-clawed otters are listed as VULNERABLE on the IUCN Red List. Otters have been significantly impacted by habitat loss, due to human encroachment, logging, agriculture and damages caused by pollution. A new threat causing their decline is the increasing pet trade. Otters pups are taken from the wild and sold into the pet trade. This trend has been heavily influenced by videos on social media. Otters, along with many other exotic species, do not make good pets. Most die with a few months. We can help by understanding the 'cute videos' we watch on social media, can influence the neglect of these species. Ignoring or reporting these videos can help to reduce the interest and impact of the pet trade. Our otters are also included in the EEP (European Endangered Species Programme). We work with zoos across Europe to successfully bred this species, to preserve genetic diversity, raise awareness and promote health populations to ensure a viable captive collection.
1. Otters can close their ears and nostrils when swimming underwater. 2. They have 12 different vocalisations to communicate with the group. 3. Male otters are called boars, females are known as sows.