In The Wild
The Oriental Short-clawed otter (Aonyx cinerea) can be found from India through Southeast Asia and up to the Philippines, Taiwan and southern China. Their range overlaps with those of smooth-coated otters and Eurasian otters in India.
They inhabit fresh water and peat swamp forests, rice fields, lakes, streams, reservoirs, canals and mangrove forests.
This species is the smallest otter species in the world, and is known for its extremely agile, hand-like front paws that feature the short claws that give the species its name. These front paws allow the otters to catch and dexterously utilise many types of prey, including crab, snails, molluscs, small fish and insects. They may even prey on other small rodents, snakes and amphibians.
Oriental Short-clawed otters have brown fur with a lighter underside and a greyish-white face and neck. Like other otter species, they have a powerful, rudder-like tail that propels and steers them in the water.
Although most otter species tend to be solitary, Oriental short-clawed otters live in family groups consisting of an alpha breeding pair and older offspring that help to raise the young. The female can give birth to up to two litters each year, each containing up to seven young. They are born after a gestation period of 62 days into a nest of grass that has been built two weeks beforehand by the female. The young do not open their eyes until about 6 weeks old and then at seven to nine weeks old they take their first swim and, then start to eat solid food.
Their numbers in the wild are declining due to many threats, including habitat loss and destruction due to farming, as well as water contamination due to insecticides entering streams from farm runoff. Overfishing of otters’ prey and contamination of prey due to pollution are two more significant threats to this species.