Sydney Zoo | Asian Small-Clawed Otter
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Asian Small-Clawed Otter

Asian Small-Clawed Otter

Species Aonyx Cinereus
Asian Small-Clawed Otter
Asian Small-Clawed Otter Distribution MapDistribution
Small clawed otter
Up to 95cm
Up to 5kg
Favourite Food
Crustaceans and molluscs
Collective noun
Romp, bevy, family or raft

The small-clawed otter is the smallest of all 13 otter species found around the world. They are typically brown in colour with a paler underside. Their short legs, small head and flattened tail provide them with a streamlined body-shape allowing ease of movement through the water whilst hunting.

These otters are a very vocal species and are known to have at least 12 different vocalisations which can be interpreted to signal; contact, greet, summon, threaten and alarm. Other ways in which they communicate are through tactile means such as social grooming, posture, hormonal changes and chemically - a trait common throughout the Mustelidae family.

Small-clawed otters possess scent glands at the base of their tail which is what they use to scent mark territories, communicate identity, gender, sexual receptivity as well as time between markings. This chemical marker emits a highly musky odour. These otters will also use communal latrine areas to communicate such information between the family group.

This otter species differs from others by spending the majority of its time on land. It is also found from sea level water systems to those at 2000m above sea-level. The water areas they reside in are preferred to be vegetated rather than open.

Conservation Status

Did You Know?

Small-clawed otters appear to have boundless energy, thanks to a very fast metabolism, however this means that they burn though food very quickly and therefore need to eat frequently to sustain themselves.