Asian Short-Clawed Otter

Latin name Aonyx cinereus
Class Mammalia
Order Carnivora
Family Mustelidae
IUCN status Vulnerable
Habitat Fresh water wetlands and mangrove swamps
Distribution Indonesia, S India, S China, SE Asia and the Phillippines

General information

These otters, also known as Oriental Small-Clawed Otters, are the smallest species of otter in the world. Otters are a member of the weasel family. They are diurnal, active in the daytime and in the wild they eat a variety of fish, crabs, invertebrates, reptiles, birds and small mammals. They use their sensitive webbed feet to find food under rocks on the river bed, their whiskers to detect prey in the water and their strong rudder-like tail to help them swim. Otters also have two layers of fur – one acts as a waterproof coat, the other as a thermal layer.

Threats

Habitat destruction, pollution and hunting.

Lifespan

Up to 21 years in captivity

Fun fact

This species of otter uses special calls to communicate with each other and can vocalise 14 different sounds. They are incredibly dexterous creatures, with the very short claw, they use their paws to search in the shallows for tasty morsels. This skill is often used to practice juggling with stones, shells, grapes or cherry tomatoes!

Keeper notes

There are two families of Asian Short Clawed Otters who entertain the staff and visitors with their cheeky, squeaky antics in the Main Building! Fizzy, born in 1999 and Feather, born in 2000, are one pair living with 2 of their offspring, Sapphire & Taurus. The other family are a group of 3 brothers, Flint & Fossil & Magma and 1 sister, Moonstone, all born at the Park between 2004-2006 to mum Stone & dad Rock.

Over in the Deer Encounter, we have a pair of Asian Short Clawed Otters called Daley, born at Chester Zoo in 2012, and Diamond, born here in 2004. And then the wonderfully adored Pickwick, the elderly male was born at the Chestnut Centre in 2004, after a compromised start to life, he had to be hand reared by the family and the keepers. He was instantly a very fond resident for the staff here at NF. He joined us in March 2018 and is winning the hearts of many visitors too!