Friday, December 31, 2010

Asian Small-Clawed Otter

(Image Source)
The Asian Small-Clawed Otter, (Aonyx cinerea) also known as the Oriental Small-Clawed Otter, can be found in freshwater wetlands and swamps of South and Southeast Asia, as well as in Indonesia and the Philippines. They have slender, short furred bodies, with very small, blunt claws (hence the name). Their feet are not fully webbed, which gives them increased dexterity with their hands. This allows them to catch prey- which includes Crustaceans, Mollusks, small Mammals, and Fish- with their hands rather than just with their mouths like other Otters do.

Asian Small-Clawed Otters have a couple more cool features. They are the smallest of all the Otters, weighing in at a maximum of 10lb (4.5kg) and measuring up to 24in (61cm). They are also the most vocal. They make about a dozen different sounds, each with its own specific meaning. They also have excellent vision both above and below water.

(Image Source)
These Otters live in small, female-dominated groups of up to a dozen individuals. Partners mate for life, and they both take part in the raising of their children. This social behavior makes them different from many other Otter species, which are either more solitary in general, or the father takes little part in the raising of offspring. Couples produce up to two litters a year, each with 2-3 pups. The pups are born quite helpless, and wont even open their eyes for six weeks. They will then be swimming after nine. Many young Otters remain with their parents and help raise subsequent litters.

Asian Small-Clawed Otters are listed as Vulnerable with a decreasing population trend. They are threatened by the loss of their wetland habitats, and by a loss of food supply from over-fishing and pollution.

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