Asian Short-Clawed Otter

Latin name Aonyx cinereus
Class Mammalia
Order Carnivora
Family Mustelidae
IUCN status Vulnerable
Habitat Fresh water wetlands and mangrove swamps
Distribution Indonesia, S India, S China, SE Asia and the Phillippines

General information

These otters, also known as Oriental Small-Clawed Otters, are the smallest species of otter in the world. Otters are a member of the weasel family. They are diurnal, active in the daytime and in the wild they eat a variety of fish, crabs, invertebrates, reptiles, birds and small mammals. They use their sensitive webbed feet to find food under rocks on the river bed, their whiskers to detect prey in the water and their strong rudder-like tail to help them swim. Otters also have two layers of fur – one acts as a waterproof coat, the other as a thermal layer.


Habitat destruction, pollution and hunting.


Up to 21 years in captivity

Fun fact

This species of otter uses special calls to communicate with each other and can vocalise 14 different sounds. They are incredibly dexterous creatures, with the very short claw, they use their paws to search in the shallows for tasty morsels. This skill is often used to practice juggling with stones, shells, grapes or cherry tomatoes!

Keeper notes

We have a pair of Asian Short Clawed Otters called Daley, born at Chester Zoo in 2012, and Dotty, born at Drusillas Park in 2012 - they were introduced together as our new breeding pair in 2018 and we are delighted that they have welcomed three litters - June 2019, May 2020 and February 2021. Dotty and Daley are now a family of 10 and live at our Main Building with a large waterfall indoors. The family are active and very vocal especially as feeding time nears.