This is the smallest of the world’s 18 otter species, measuring about 0.9m long and weighing around 5kg.
Life expectancy is 12 to 14 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity.
HABITAT & DISTRIBUTION
Small-clawed otters prefer shallow water, with a good food supply and moderate to low bank-side vegetation. They are found in a wide range of climates from tropical, coastal wetlands through to mountain streams. They are currently found from the Himalayan foothills of Himachal Pradesh eastward throughout south Asia, extending up to the Philippines and down through Indonesia.
WHAT THEY EAT
They feed mainly on invertebrates such as crustaceans and molluscs, but are also known to feed on vertebrates, in particular amphibians.
Small-clawed otters prefer shallow water, with a good food supply and moderate to low bank-side vegetation.
- These otters are extremely manually dextrous as they have very short claws (hence the name!), using their forepaws to feel for molluscs and crustaceans in rocks, vegetation and mud.
- The stiff whiskers, or vibrissae, around the nose and mouth of the otter are highly sensitive to water turbulence and help to locate prey in murky waters.
- Otters have two layers of fur consisting of a thick, coarse, waterproof outer coat and an insulating, warm inner layer made up of much finer, softer fur. Otter’s milk is extremely rich (six times more fat than cow’s milk).
- In some parts of Asia, people train otters to help them catch small fish.
- To keep their body at a constant temperature, otters maintain their metabolism by eating the equivalent of 25 per cent of their body weight every day.