The Asian Small-Clawed Otter's scientific name is Amblonyx cinerea. The generic name,
amblonyx, means "blunt clawed", referring to this species' small
forelimb claws. The specific name, cinerea, means "grayish in
color". The Oriental small-clawed otter is the smallest of the otter
species, with the largest adults reaching a mere 3ft in length and
The Asian Small-Clawed Otter is a member of the weasel family, Mustelidae, in the Mammalian Order of Carnivora. Other mustelids
include ferrets and mink.
These otters are found in Indonesia, New Guinea, the Philippines,
and southern India and China. Small-clawed otters occasionally eat
frogs and fish, but generally prefer to eat mollusks and
crustaceans. They have very strong, heavy teeth adapted to crushing
shells. The Asian Small-Clawed Otter uses its sensitive fingers
to dig up prey from the bottom of rivers or creeks.
Small-clawed otters move in family groups consisting of a mated pair
and their offspring and numbering up to twelve individuals. Short
claws has permitted this otter species to develop hunting methods
relying on dexterity. Less webbing on their front feet than other
otter species also adds to their forelimb versatility. While most
otters capture their prey with their mouths, the Asian
small-clawed otter uses its hands to snag prey items.
Asian Small-Clawed Otters are not seasonal breeders.
Gestation is 68-74 days, and litters can contain 1-5 pups. In
this species, both parents and young from
previous litters help care for the new pups.
The Asian Small-Clawed Otter is more numerous than other species
of otter throughout southeast Asia. However, it still suffers from
habitat destruction and pollution. The human development of forests
on the mainland regions of southeast Asia has lead this otter
species to become more numerous on the islands of its range.