Fun African Clawless Otter Facts For Kids

Anusuya Mukherjee
Oct 20, 2022 By Anusuya Mukherjee
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
African clawless otter facts are about the second largest freshwater otter species.

There are a total of 13 species of otters in the world, and the African clawless otter is one in this family. Its scientific name is Aonyx capensis.

The African clawless otter is also known by its popular names, the Cape clawless otter and groot otter.

The African clawless otter (Aonyx capensis) is endemic to Senegal, Ethiopia, South Africa, and West Africa where they are seen in coastal to semi-arid regions. The African clawless otter (Aonyx capensis) is a carnivorous animal and feeds on crabs, fish, frogs, and worms as prey.

The African clawless otter (Aonyx capensis) is a Near Threatened species. Apart from their predators, other threats they face include degradation of their habitat, climate change, and pollution.

Their population is considered to have significantly declined over the years. Conservation efforts to protect such species have been initiated, however, unless major changes are made, this species will continue to remain under threat.

For more relatable content, check out river otter and European otter facts.  

African Clawless Otter Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an African clawless otter?

African clawless otters are a type of otter which belongs to the kingdom Animalia and order Carnivora.

What class of animal does an African clawless otter belong to?

African clawless otters are a type of otter species that belongs to the class Mammalia, family Mustelidae, and genus Aonyx.  

How many African clawless otters are there in the world?

The exact population of African clawless otter is evaluated at 21,500 individuals. They are classified as a Near Threatened species by the IUCN Red List. Their population is expected to decrease further in the upcoming years.

Where does an African clawless otter live?

African clawless otter or Cape clawless otter range includes coastal regions, semi-arid regions, aquatic regions, and forests. They are spotted in regions including Senegal, Ethiopia, South Africa, and West Africa.

What is an African clawless otter's habitat?

An African clawless otter habitat constitutes rivers, rocky shores, estuaries or mangroves, coastal regions, semi-arid regions, and marine habitats. Access to fresh water is essential to the sustenance of these species. 97 percent of the water on earth is saline, and only three percent is freshwater. This makes the suitable marine habitats for this species to survive in limited.

Who do African clawless otters live with?

African clawless otters or Cape clawless otters are solitary beings, however, they live in groups of five or more individual otters. They come together during the breeding season. They are seldom spotted around people.

How long does an African clawless otter live?

An African clawless otter's average lifespan is estimated at 10-12 years. In the wild, they don't survive long, however, they survive longer when raised in captivity. The oldest otter in the world was Lootas, who died at the age of 23 years and lived in the Seattle aquarium.

How do they reproduce?

African clawless otters are capable of reproducing all year round. They reach sexual maturity at the age of one year. They prefer breeding in December since it is the rainy season and the gestation period lasts 63 days.

Male otter African clawless and female clawless otter African mate and reproduce sexually after the gestation period. Female African clawless otters give birth to two to three young. After giving birth, female weaning occurs from 45-60 days.

Weaning refers to the process of introducing a juvenile into the real world. At the weaning stages, most juveniles rely on their mothers. By one year, the juvenile is capable of living independently.

What is their conservation status?

The African clawless otter is classified as Near Threatened species by the International Union For Conservation Of Nature IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The IUCN Red List contains information related to various other species along with their range map.

African Clawless Otter Fun Facts

What do African clawless otters look like?

African clawless otter or Cape clawless otter body size is medium to large. They have a brown fur coat covered over their body.

When born their bodies are small in size, and their bodies develop the fur coat over a year. Most otters have webbed feet, however, these otters have webless front feet. They don't have claws, and there are only three clawless otters.

They have stout tails which are almost invisible at first glance. They have a small face with two dark-colored eyes with a nose and long whiskers on their white to cream-colored faces.

African Clawless Otter

How cute are they?

African clawless otters are known for their webbed feet without claws. They are extremely cute in appearance. However, they are seldom seen near human settlements. If you wish to know more about them you could find them near freshwater bodies. They have a tendency to leave their scent in certain aquatic regions.

How do they communicate?

Their behavior is clever and inquisitive. They are found close to freshwater water bodies and prefer being solitary and only come together during the breeding season.

A lot is still left to be understood about their behavior. Males and females go their separate ways once they are done mating, and then the females take care of the offspring until they are independent.

How big is an African clawless otter?

The African clawless otter is 32.3 in (82 cm) in length, 10 times bigger than a weasel which is 8-10 in (20.3-25.4 cm).

How fast can an African clawless otter swim?

An African clawless otter's exact swimming speed is not recorded, however, they are intelligent beings and react immediately when they sense any predators. Predators are animals who consume them as food.

How much does an African clawless otter weigh?

An African clawless otter weighs 41.9 lb (19 kg). An American giant river otter weighing up to 70.5 lb (32 kg) is considered to be the largest otter in the world.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male otters are called boars, and females are called sows. Males and females are difficult to tell apart since they are similar in appearance. They differ in reproductive functions.

What would you call a baby African clawless otter?

Baby African clawless otters are called pups. Young pups are completely dependent on their parents in the initial few weeks of their lives and become independent by one year.

What do they eat?

They consume a carnivorous diet. Their diet constitutes crabs, frogs, fish, and worms as prey which can be found easily near water habitats. The diet of juveniles is different  compared to adults.

They do not eat any herbivorous matter in their diet. Predators include crocodiles, eagles, and pythons.

Predators usually attack them close to their habitats. They use their front two paws while consuming food as they get a better grip on their food. They are most active when they search for food, and since they are solitary beings, they are territorial over their food.

Are they dangerous?

It's rare to spot them in the current day and age primarily because they are Near Threatened and reside in freshwater habitats in regions including Senegal, Ethiopia, South Africa, and West Africa. If you wish to see these otters, you would have to visit designated spaces.

If you do spot them, ensure to maintain a safe distance as they are known to attack if threatened.

Would they make a good pet?

No, they are innately wild beings and they live as solitary beings or in a group in the wild. They come together only for mating. The mating season usually occurs in December. If you wish to see them, you will have to visit designated spots where you can spot them easily.

Did you know...

Sea otters eat 25 percent of their body weight in a day. They may feed on multiple things including crabs, clams, fish, and other marine animals.

Otters are the only species that have shorter and less muscular tails.

A group of resting otters is called a raft. A group of 1000 otters swimming together is not an uncommon scene. While floating, they wrap themselves in seaweed in a formation resembling a raft.

Are there otters in Egypt?

Otters are not found in Egypt nor are they found in the Nile water. Otters are not found in Australia, New Zealand, and Madagascar, or any ocean islands. South Africa is home to two species of otters, the spotted necked otter and the African clawless otter. Otters are solitary beings, however, they do live in groups at times.

How many babies do African clawless otters have?

African clawless otters come together in a group during the breeding season. Female African clawless otters give birth to two to three young. They can breed all year long. However, they prefer breeding in the month of December. Have you ever come across an otter?  

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Norwich terrier facts and pygmy goat facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable African clawless otter coloring pages.

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Written by Anusuya Mukherjee

Bachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

Anusuya Mukherjee picture

Anusuya MukherjeeBachelor of Arts and Law specializing in Political Science and Intellectual Property Rights

With a wealth of international experience spanning Europe, Africa, North America, and the Middle East, Anusuya brings a unique perspective to her work as a Content Assistant and Content Updating Coordinator. She holds a law degree from India and has practiced law in India and Kuwait. Anusuya is a fan of rap music and enjoys a good cup of coffee in her free time. Currently, she is working on her novel, "Mr. Ivory Merchant".

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