Congo Clawless Otter


Common Name: Congo Clawless Otter OtterClass: Mammalia
Aonyx congica



The Congo Clawless Otter's scientific name is Aonyx congica.  The generic name, aonyx, which means "not-clawed", refers to this otter species' clawless forelimbs.  The specific name, congica, means "belonging to the Congo region central Africa", which is its primary range.  The Congo Clawless Otter is a member of the weasel family, Mustelidae, in the Mammalian Order of Carnivora.  Other mustelids include ferrets and mink. 

Generally colored brown with white underbellies, Congo clawless otters lack claws on all digits, with exception of the second, third and fourth digits of the hindlimbs.  Adults range in length from 4-5 in length, weighing 30-70lbs.


This species range stretches from the Congo River basin directly west to the Atlantic coast of Africa.  Rainforest steams and ponds are the preferred habitat.  Their front paws are completely clawless with minimal webbing, giving them an appearance very similar to human hands.  They use their incredibly dexterous paws to grab prey such as mollusks and crustaceans.


The Congo clawless otter is nocturnal and solitary.  Little else is known about its behavior and even less is known about its reproductive.  It is closely related to the cape clawless otter, so similar behavior and reproduction may be assumed.


Like most the cape clawless otter, the Congo clawless otter was once hunted for its fur.  However, this species is currently threatened by the deforestation, occurring throughout Africa.  Habitat loss will result in the decline of this species, which is already rare.


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