Fun Asian Small-Clawed Otter Facts For Kids

Anusuya Mukherjee
May 14, 2023 By Anusuya Mukherjee
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Ambuj Tripathi
Asian small-clawed otter facts about a cute mammal.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.6 Min

Do you want to identify the smallest otter in the world? Let's make your search easy. Out of the 13 otter species, the Asian small-clawed otters are the smallest. Its weight is 10 lb (4.5 kg), and its body length is 2 ft (61 cm). The tail is 10-14 in long.

The Aonyx cinereus are social animals. The group members communicate using more than 12 distinct calls and utter various shrieks and moans. Searching for food is done at the coastline or shallow water areas. They often walk around with their paws.

The teeth are well arranged for a varied diet like shellfish. The captive Aonyx cinereus living in the zoo are found to leave the shellfish out in the sun; the heat causes the shellfish to open. In this way, they can consume their prey like shellfish.

The oriental small-clawed otter is considered endangered because of its hunting, habitat loss, and pollution. Read up on them below. Also, find out about otters and river otters.

Asian Small-Clawed Otter Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an Asian Small-Clawed Otter?

The Oriental small-clawed otter or Aonyx cinerea is the smallest of the otter species and is usually active after dark. This otter species rows with the help of their forelimbs when swimming on the surface of the water.

It does paddling with the hind limbs. When diving under the water, they move up and down with the help of their tail and body.

What class of animal does an Asian Small-Clawed Otter belong to?

The Asian small-clawed otter family is Mustelidae, and it belongs to the class of mammals.

How many Asian Small-Clawed Otters are there in the world?

The exact population size of oriental small-clawed otters is not known. According to Woodland Park Zoo in the USA, they estimated that the total population size of the otter species is around 5000 otters. The oriental small-clawed otter is currently classified as Vulnerable.

Where does an Asian Small-Clawed Otter live?

The small-clawed otters live in freshwater wetlands like swamps, estuaries, meandering rivers, coastal lagoons, muddy banks, tidal ponds, and irrigated rice paddies. The small-clawed otters' native habitat comprises Southeast Asia.

It ranges from Southern China to Southern India. In Southern China, they are found across the southern boundary. In Southern India, they are found in Karnataka, Palni, and Nilgiri hills in Tamil Nadu.

The Aonyx cinereus is also found in the eastern part of India, like West Bengal, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh, and Assam. In Southeast Asia, they are found in Java, Borneo, Sumatra, and Palawan.

What is an Asian Small-Clawed Otter's habitat?

The Asian small-clawed otter habitat comprises swamps, wetlands, mangroves, tidal ponds, estuaries, rivers, forests, and grasslands. They like to adapt to a variety of aquatic habitats.

These otter species are known to make frequent visits to the rice paddies. They don't like open areas and often choose places with low to moderate vegetation coverage. They spend most of their time on the land.

A burrow known as a holt is created near the side of a river or muddy banks. They usually like to live in good-quality water and natural habitats like near-flowing irrigated water fields, ponds, rice fields, and mangroves. You can trace them in different aquatic habitats.

Who do Asian Small-Clawed Otters live with?

The Aonyx cinereus are very social and live in groups or with their extended family group comprising 15 individuals. In Sundarbans, 53 otters were recorded in 13 locations within 351 km, with 1-12 individuals in each group.

How long does an Asian Small-Clawed Otter live?

The Asian small-clawed otter's lifespan is around 12 years in captivity or the zoo. Some otter species are found to live for up to 20 years in the zoo with proper care. However, its lifespan in the wild is unknown.

How do they reproduce?

The Asian small-clawed otters start showing their breeding behavior when they are six months old. However, they get sexually matured only after one and a half years old. Successful reproduction of the Aonyx cinerea occurs when they are one and a half years old or three years old.

Once matured, they can breed throughout the year. For breeding, they usually built burrows called holts near the side of the rivers. The estrous cycle of the females is for 28 days.

The average gestation of the females is 60 days. After 60 days of gestation, the females give birth to around one to six pups. Usually, two litters are born every year with an eight or nine months gap.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of Aonyx cinereus is Vulnerable as there has been a rapid population decline.

Asian Small-Clawed Otter Fun Facts

What do Asian Small-Clawed Otters look like?

The small-clawed Asian otter's body has deep-brown fur. The backside of the body comprises reddish-brown fur and paler underneath. The side of the head and neck are brown. The upper lip, throat, neck, cheeks, and chin is whitish.

The skull is short, and the rhinarium is rounded and without any fur. The snout has vibrissae on both sides, which help detect the motion of prey in the water. The Aonyx cinereus species comprises partially webbed claws, which is very helpful for swimming. They catch prey with their webbed claws.

How cute are they?

The Aonyx cinereus species are very cute-looking creatures. They have dark brown fur and gray or white markings on the throat and face, oval ears, striking eyes, and short hairs. The webbed claws help them for swimming.

How do they communicate?

The Aonyx cinereus are vocal species and have 12 different vocalizations. The vocals are used for contacting, greeting, summons, threats, and alarm calls. These vocal signs can be chemical, visual, social grooming, posturing, or hormonal changes.

The Aonyx cinereus species also use scent markings for communication. Paired scent glands are found at the bottom of the tail.

The otters emit an extremely pungent scent representing territorial marks and communication regarding their sex, identity, sexual responsiveness, and time of their visit to the same area based on their scent. It has been found that the oriental small-clawed otter species smudge their feces sites with their tail and hind feet.

Extended family groups spread more feces than otter groups of three or fewer animals.

The density of spreading their feces varies with location, which means that they have particular preferences for sites. The marking of sites with their feces often indicates territorial instincts and mostly likely smoothens the social ties within the extended family groups.

How big is an Asian Small-Clawed Otter?

The Aonyx cinereus species are 28.7-37.8 in (73-96 cm) in body length. It is three times smaller than the giant otters.

How fast can an Asian Small-Clawed Otter move?

The captive otters or otters in the zoo are known to swim at a speed of 2.3-3.9 ft/s (0.7-1.2 m/s).

How much does an Asian Small-Clawed Otter weigh?

Asian small-clawed otter weight is 6-7.7 lb (2.7-3.5 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Aonyx cinereus males are called boars, and females are called sows.

What would you call a baby Asian Small-Clawed Otter?

Baby otters are known as pups. The pups open their eyes after 40 days. They begin to swim after 60 days and take solid food after 80 days. Also, the average weaning age of the pups is 80 days.

What do they eat?

The small-clawed otters in the wild eat mollusks, Trichogaster fish, mudskippers, crabs, frogs, and crustaceans. Its diet or food eating habits vary according to season. When available, they also prey on snakes, insects, rats, catfish, and other paddy fields fish as their food.

The Aonyx cinereus feed on a meat diet called nature balance. The young ones feed on solid food only after 60 days of birth.

Are they dangerous?

No, they are not dangerous to humans. The otters rarely attack humans. They are only territorial and protective of their babies.

Would they make a good pet?

The Aonyx cinereus would not make a good pet. They will never be happy if kept captive. An Asian small-clawed otter pet is mainly kept in vast open spaces. They are social animals and live in groups of up to 20. They also require the right amount of diet.

Did you know...

The otters have dense fur with around 450000 hairs per square inch.

The otters are found in every continent except Antarctica and Australia.

The otters close their nostrils and ears when swimming below the surface water.

Many otters have escaped from the zoo in England and established a population of their own in the wild.

The oriental small-clawed otter uses sandy banks or grassy areas for resting, grooming, and sunbathing. In marshy habitat areas, they often use islands.

What is the difference between the Asian Small-Clawed Otter and other otters?

Unlike other otters, Asian small-clawed otters are skilled animals. With its paws and partially webbed claws, it catches fish. In comparison, other otters use their mouth to grab a piece of fish. The paws of the Aonyx cinereus are also used to grab crabs, mollusks, and other small aquatic animals.

Having an Asian Small-Clawed Otter

The Aonyx cinereus are rare species. The Asian small-clawed otter price is around $3000, or it could be higher. However, different dealers offer different prices. You can find them at a pet dealer shop.

They are illegal in the US, except in some states. You can keep them as pets with proper permission in Florida, Minnesota, and Indiana. But you can never keep an otter as a pet in Australia. Entry and export of exotic animals in Australia are strictly illegal.

If you have brought an otter as a pet, the best way to take care of your otter is to give them a home of their own. Make sure to provide them with enough land and water. In general, though, they prefer to be left in the wild.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including the beaver or European otter.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Asian small-clawed 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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Fact-checked by Ambuj Tripathi

Bachelor of Journalism and Mass Communication

Ambuj Tripathi picture

Ambuj TripathiBachelor of Journalism and Mass Communication

Ambuj is a skilled fact checker with a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Amity University. He has been recognized for his exceptional content writing skills, having won a CineMedia competition. In addition to his writing abilities, he also has a flair for design.

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