The Asian Small-Clawed Otter (Amblonyx cinereus) is the smallest otter in the world. It is also called the Oriental Small-Clawed Otter. They are related to the weasel.
They have slender long and flexible bodies with dark grey-brown fur, with lighter patches on the face and neck. Otters have two types of fur: long, stout guard hairs and short, fine undercoat hairs, which looks velvety.
Asian Small-Clawed Otters have flat heads and thick necks. Their eyes are located at the front of their head. The ears are small and rounded and have a valve that enables them to be closed when the otters swim underwater.
They have short legs, which are used to swim, walk, groom and manipulate prey. Asian Small-clawed Otters have partially-webbed limbs and more nimble fingers than other otters.
It is semi-aquatic, living part of their lives in water, unlike other otters that spend most of their time in water.
Unlike most otters, the Asian Small-Clawed Otter uses its forepaws to catch prey instead of using their mouths. They are excellent hunters, swimming along the surface of the water, looking for crustaceans, such as crabs and shrimp. They can dive down and catch their prey with their front paws, that have small, blunt, peg-like claws. That’s why they are called Small-Clawed Otters. They return to land to feed.
They also feed on insects and small fish, or rodents and snakes.
They grow to about 70 centimetres (28 inches), whereas the Giant Otter grows to 1.7 meters (65 inches). Their tail is about 30 centimetres (12 inches).
They live is social groups, with males and females bonding for life. Females have about 1-6 babies a year. Females are pregnant for 60-64 days, before giving birth to babies, called pups.
Pups are altricial – born blind and helpless. They open their eyes after about 40 days, and by three months of age they can swim. Pups stay with their mother until the next litter is born.
The life span of Asian Small-Clawed Otters is around 11 to 16 years.
They are found in mangrove swamps and freshwater wetlands in northwest India to southeast Asia.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM