Asian small clawed otters
Asian small clawed otters

Asian small clawed otters

Asian small clawed otters: The Asian small-clawed otter (Amblonyx cinereasyn. Aonyx cinereus), also known as the oriental small-clawed otter or simply small-clawed otter, is a semiaquatic mammal native to South and Southeast Asia. It is a member of the otter subfamily (Lutrinae) of the weasel family (Mustelidae), and is the smallest otter species in the world.[2] Its paws are a distinctive feature; its claws do not extend beyond the fleshy end pads of its partially webbed fingers and toes. This gives it a high degree of manual dexterity so that it can use its paws to feed on molluscscrabs and other small aquatic animals.

Distribution : India, Asia, Philippines, Taiwan, China
Habitat      : Rivers, creeks, wetlands, mangroves and rice fields
Height       : 70-96cm including the tail
Weight       : 1-5kg
Lifespan     : Wild: 8-10 years; captivity 20 years

The Asian small-clawed otter inhabits mangrove swamps and freshwater wetlands in South and Southeast Asia. It lives in extended family groups with only the alpha pair breeding; offspring from previous years help to raise the young.

Asian small-clawed otters Behavior and habitat:

Behavior:

These is a long tradition of using small clawed otters as working animals in the Far East, from China to Malaysia (Gudger (1927). These animals are still prized as fishing companions in Malaysia and Bangladesh, where a trained animal from a known pedigree can change hands for high prices – these working otters are generally from captive, working mothers, and learn their trade by swimming free whilst their mother, usually wearing a harness with a rope attached, drives fish into the nets.

On the other hand, there are reports of Asian small clawed otters kept in Indonesian Zoos being beaten and starved to make them perform in shows.

This is by far the most common species of otter kept in captivity because it is small, and easier to manage than other otters, breeds prolifically in captivity (even if cub mortality is high), cute, and more tolerant of non-ideal conditions that other otters.

Native Habitat:
Asian small-clawed otters are found in southern India, southern China, Southeast Asia, Indonesia and the Philippines. These otters live in small streams, rivers, marshes, rice paddies, seacoasts and in mangroves. They share their habitat with three other species of otter: Eurasian, smooth coated and hairy nosed.

Asian small-clawed otters Food and Eating Habits:

In captivity:

Asian small clawed otters are fed a prepared meat diet called Natural Balance, small fish such as smelt and capelin, canned feline diet and kibble. Like domestic cats, Asian small clawed otters have a propensity to develop kidney stones, so they are given cat food which includes ingredients that prohibit the growth of these stones. They are also given crabs, mussels, clams, mealworms, crickets, live crayfish and live goldfish as enrichment items. With a very rapid metabolism, otters have boundless energy, but a meal passes through their system in just a few hours. Because of this, they are fed multiple times a day.

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.

They are seen as a valuable form of pest control for rice farmers as they eat the crayfish and crabs which damage their crops. They have also been utilised by fishermen and trained to herd fish towards their nets in return for food. However they are seen as a pest by prawn farmers as they will regularly raid their farms and eat their stocks.

In the Wild  clawed otters:
In the wild the otters eat primarily crustaceans and mollusks but will also eat fish, insects, amphibians and reptiles. Asian small-clawed otters use their forepaws rather than their mouth to locate and capture food items. Incomplete webbing between the toes gives them a great deal of manual dexterity. They have sensitive digital pads that help them feel under rocks or in murky water for food. They dig in sand and mud at the shoreline for various types of shellfish (clams and mussels) and crabs. To get at the meat, they either crush the shell by hand or let heat from the sun open the shells. Their teeth are broad and robust, well suited for crushing shells.

Asian small-clawed otters Communication:

Communication is important; they are very vocal with 12 distinct calls used to communicate with the group. They use a series of yips, barks, whistles and chattering noises including greeting, mating, and alarm calls.

These otters also use scent markings as an important form of communication. With paired scent glands at the base of the tail, otters emit an intensely musky smell that can delineate territory and communicates information concerning identity, sex, sexual receptivity and time elapsed between scenting visits. They tend to defecate or spray in communal latrine areas to pass on this information.

Asian small-clawed otters reproduction and development:

Small-clawed otters start exhibiting breeding behavior around six months old, although they generally are not sexually mature until one and a half years. The most successful breeding occurs between 1.5 and 3 years old. Once they are mature, they can breed year-round. They dig nesting burrows called holts into the muddy banks where they live. The female’s estrous cycle is 28 days, with a three-day period of estrus. After a gestation period of 68 to 72 days, females give birth to a litter of one to six pups. Typically, two litters of pups are born each year, 8 or 9 months apart. All members of the family group help feed and care for the young.

Requirements before owning an Asian small-clawed otter:

The Asian small-clawed otter is one of the fortunate breed of otters that can be easily own privately, being a protected breed of animal in general there are some legal steps and paper work any private owner or breeder will be required before owning one or making it legal.

  • CITES Permit
  • The health certificate 2 years warranty (Vet certificate)
  • Veterinary Record certificate
  • The transfer of ownership certificate.
  • Sales contract Certified by the Board of Livestock here.
  • There are specific enclosure requirements detailed; the enclosure for one otter

needs to be 10’x8’x6 (Though not applied to all countries, most in USA)

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