Asian Small-Clawed Otter


Common Name: Asian Small-clawed Otter
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
Genus: Amblonyx
Species: Amblonyx cinerea



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 weighing 6-12lbs.
  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.


Content provided by Canisius College students under the direction of Michael Noonan, PhD.