Vulnerable / threatened
Where to see them:
Otter habitat, Asian Forest
Asian small-clawed otters are extremely social and can live in family groups of up to 12 individuals and communicate using 12 different vocalizations.
If a second litter is born, the first litter of pups (although they may only be 5 or 6 months old) will help care for the newborns while mom and dad take very rare breaks to leave the den for food or more nesting material.
Length is approximately two feet. Asian small-clawed otters are the smallest of all otter species. Weight is 3 to 4 kilograms, or up to 10 pounds.
Southeast Asia, southeast China, southern India, Hainan, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Palawan and on the Malay Peninsula.
Freshwater wetlands, rivers, lakes, estuaries and mangrove swamps; Asian small-clawed otters spend more time on land than any other otter species.
Asian small-clawed otters’ feet are only partially webbed, and they have stubby fingers tipped with tiny claws that do not protrude beyond the ends of the digital pads (this is the origin of the species name). The fingers on the forepaws are very sensitive and nimble and are used to locate food in the mud beneath the rocks. Long whiskers help otters locate prey underwater and are often more useful than their eyes.
Asian small-clawed otters live in extended family groups of up to 12 animals, with strong bonds between breeding pairs. The female is the dominant partner of the pair. Otters are very agile on both land and in water; Asian small-clawed otters spend more time on land than most other otter species, but they will flee to the water in case of danger.
Wild diet is primarily composed of crabs, snails, crayfish, mollusks and frogs. Otters are hand-oriented (not mouth-oriented like carnivores) and will grab and hold prey with their forepaws while eating.
After a gestation of about 60 days, Asian small-clawed otters can have litters consisting of one to 7 pups. They are born very small (just a few ounces) with a little white fur and eyes completely closed. For the few weeks of life they remain in the den with their mother and father, leaving only to go retrieve food or nesting materials. Both parents participate in the rearing of the pups, teaching them to move around, find food, and swim.
While Asian small-clawed otters typically reach sexual maturity at 2 years of age, pups often stay with their parents for up to 6 years, helping to raise future litters.
Some of My Neighbors (IN THE WILD)
Bornean and Sumatran orangutans, slow loris, Sumatran tigers, civets, leopards, crocodiles
Population Status & Threats
IUCN Red List lists these otters as Near Threatened. Asian small-clawed otters are likely to qualify as threatened or endangered in the future. The biggest threat to the Asian small-clawed otter is destruction of habitat for developmental purposes. In India the primary reason for loss of habitats of small-clawed otters are tea and coffee plantations, aquaculture and increase in human settlements. Increased pesticide use from plantations also reduces the quality of their habitats. Pollution also decreases populations of otter prey species. Also, some hunting for their pelts still occurs.