Aonyx cinereus

Asian small-clawed otter

The Asian small-clawed otter, native to the southern Asian continent, is the smallest of the 13 otter species that exist worldwide. It is an excellent swimmer and uses its feet for hunting rather than its mouth!

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Length 60 cm
Weight up to 5Kg
Longevity 11 - 16 years
Diet Fish
Habitat Streams with stones
Reproduction 2 cubs
IUCN Red List Status
Not evaluated
Data deficient
Least concern
Near threatened
Critically endangered

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Asian small-clawed otter has dark grey-brown fur over most of their bodies and a lighter colour on their face and neck. Its claws are extremely small and wait to reach beyond the finger. The paws are only partially webbed, which allows for more dexterity than full webbed otters.
Of all otters, they are the smallest and least aquatic.



These otters use their forelimbs to look for food in dense vegetation or in holes. They are diurnal animals. They tend to their fur a lot and dry it by rolling it on the ground or rubbing it on rocks and logs. They are good swimmers and their hind legs and tail act as a rudder. They can dive and stay under water for up to 8 minutes!
They communicate through vocalizations, by their odour and also by territorial markings of faeces. They can emit up to 12 types of vocalizations.
They form a couple for life.



The Asian small-clawed otter population is decreasing. Across Asia, the biggest threat to their survival is the destruction of their habitats to create development activities. In many parts of Asia, habitats have been reduced due to the restoration of peat and mangrove forests, aquaculture activities along wetlands, tea and coffee planting, and the loss of hill ridges. Increased influx of pesticides into plantation streams reduces habitat quality.
Another important threat is the reduction of prey biomass due to overexploitation, which has made their remaining natural habitats unsustainable. Pollution is probably the most important factor causing the population decline of many fish species.

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