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
Lifespan 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 Otters have dark greyish-brown fur on most of their body and a lighter coloration on their face and neck. Their claws are extremely small and rarely extend beyond the toes. The feet are partially webbed, which allows for greater dexterity.



Asian small-clawed Otters use their forelimbs to forage for food in dense vegetation or holes. They take great care of their fur 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. When diving, they can stay underwater for up to 8 minutes. They are diurnal animals and communicate by vocalizations, through their scent, and by territorial fecal markings. They can emit up to 12 types of vocalizations. Asian small-clawed Otters form couples for life.



All over Asia, the main threat to the subsistence of the species is the destruction of its habitats for commercial and residential development. The increased influx of pesticides into the streams from the plantations reduces the quality of existing habitats. At the same time, the decrease in prey (food) is also an important factor, which makes the remaining natural habitats unsustainable.
Poaching remains very significant in many parts of India and Southeast Asia, particularly for fur, and is a strong threat that must be constantly monitored. Another recorded threat is the growing illegal trade for the use of Asian small-clawed Otters as pets. Nowadays, much of this trade is done online, which makes it even more difficult to control.

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