Asian Short-Clawed Otters
- Scientific name: Amblonyx cinereus
The Asian Short-clawed Otter is the smallest type of otter in the world. It comes from S.E. Asia.
Like all otters, it is lively and playful. Even in the wild it often plays chase or tug-of-war with its friends.
The paws of the short-clawed otter are more hand-like than those of other types of otter. It uses them to fish around in shallow water for food.
This type of otter mates for life. Both parents help to raise the young.
They live in swamps and wetland areas, often near river estuaries. Unlike the Canadian and European otters, they prefer shallow water. They dig dens in riverbanks, or if they can find one, they move into a den that some other creature has finished with.
Their main diet is snails and crabs, but they also eat fish, birds and frogs. They don't grab food with their mouths, instead they use their sensitive, hand-like paws to feel around in shallow water, probing in the mud and under rocks.
Although not enough studies have been done to give a definite answer, it is likely that southern Asian predators such as the tiger would kill an otter for food - if they could catch one!
These animals mate for life, and produce two litters of babies (known as pups) each year. The pups are blind and completely helpless when they are born. They open their eyes at six weeks and start learning to swim.
Other interesting facts
- Like all otters, the short-clawed otter has a long, sleek body and a strong tail, making it an excellent swimmer.
- The paws are webbed to help with swimming and are quite hand-like, with sensitive fingers for finding food.
- As the name suggests, the claws are much shorter than those of other types of otter.
- The otter's coat is made up of long, water-repellent hairs on top and soft, thick fur underneath. This double coat keeps the otter warm and dry.
- It can close its ears and nostrils when underwater, making swimming a more comfortable experience!
- It has large, broad back teeth for crushing snail and crab shells.