Equally at home underwater as it is on land, the Asian Short-clawed Otter is the smallest species of otter in the world. These miniscule mammals get their name from their short claws, which are much smaller than on all other species of otter.
These otters can be found throughout Asia, with a wide territory spanning all the way from India, through China to the Philippines. They are highly social animals and will live in groups of up to twelve individuals. These groups are known as ‘romps’ and will make their home along rivers, coastal wetlands, mangroves and rice fields; where there is an abundance of crustaceans, molluscs and fish for them to gorge themselves on.
Female Asian Short-clawed Otters can give birth to up to two litters per year; with each litter containing up to seven young. These young are born after a gestation period of approximately 62 days, and are raised in a grass nest built by the mother. It is not until they are 40 days old that they will first open their eyes, and it can be another three weeks before they take their first swim!
Threats in the wild
The Asian Short-clawed Otter is currently listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. As is the case with many of the world’s species, the main threat these little fellas face is habitat destruction. In many places these otters are also seen as a pest, damaging livelihoods through their love for crabs and fish which are intensively farmed throughout Asia. A further threat they face is through hunting, with their pelts and internal organs being used in traditional medicine.