In a special double whammy, we have a Friday Facts post as well as a Flashback Friday about one of my favourite animals: otters.
My love affair for otters goes all the way back to grade four when I decided that when I grew up I wanted to open up an otter sanctuary for all the sea otters. I’m still waiting for that to pan out.
These otters, the Asian small-clawed otter, stole my heart back in July of 2017 at the Woodland Park Zoo. I could have spent the entire trip watching them. They were chasing each other in circles around the exhibit, having the best day. Plus, look at their chubby little tummies.
Identifying These Otters
My favourite identifying note about the Asian small-clawed otter is that they are the smallest of all the otter species at an average weight of 10 pounds and up to 2 feet long. However, that isn’t much use if you don’t have all 13 species lined up. They are brown with a greyish cream set of markings under their throat and bellies, and as the name suggests, the claws on their webbed feet are rather small.
Habitat & Home
As the name suggests, these otters come from Asia, in India, southern China, Southeast Asia, Indonesia and the Philippines. They occupy streams, rice paddies, rivers, marshes, and other similar bodies of (typically) freshwater. They have also been accidentally established in England after a few escapes.
Favourite Otter Snacks
These otters eat a variety of aquatic snacks, such as fish, frogs, crabs, mussels, snails, and crayfish They’ll also snack on insects and snakes. Unlike other otters, they don’t have complete webbing on their feet, making them well-adapted to pawing around for their food.
Threats to Asian Small-Clawed Otters
Being this cute comes with a price. Asian small-clawed otters are routinely poached for the pet trade as well as their pelt. They also face habitat destruction due to logging and other human activity and face water contamination from pesticides and heavy metals.
- Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute
- Georgia Aquarium
- Animal Diversity Web
- Denver Zoo
- The Revelator, an Intiative for the Center for Biological Diversity
- International Otter Survival Fund