oriental small clawed otterScientific Name-Aonyx Cinerea

Conservation Status-Vulnerable


The Oriental small clawed otter is the smallest of the 13 otter species. They generally only weigh between 2.5 and 3kg. They only measure up to 100cm of which a third may be the tail.

The back feet of this species is fully webbed and the front feet are partially webbed.

Their body is covered in dark brown fur which is quite short. On the underside their fur is a pale brown.


In the wild the oriental small clawed otter may live to be 10 years old. In human care they have been known to reach 20 years.


The Oriental Small Clawed Otter is a carnivore. In the wild the main food which they eat is crabs. They will also eat fish and snails while in the water. On land they can eat lizards, frogs, mice and eggs.


In their natural habitat oriental small clawed otters inhabit swamps, rivers, mangroves and tidal pools. They are also known to frequent human made rice paddies.

They do not like open areas choosing instead to inhabit areas with low to moderate tree cover.

The majority of this otter’s life is spent on the land unlike most of the other species.

The oriental small clawed otter creates a burrow which it digs in the side of a river. This burrow is known as a holt.

Oriental small clawed otters are found in India through Southern China and into Sumatra, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, Philippines, Nepal, Java and Indonesia.


oriental small clawed otterOriental small clawed otters become sexually mature at 1 year of age. They do not usually first reproduce until 2-3 years of age though.

Otters have a 28 day oestrous cycle and are fertile for 3 days a month.

These otters can give birth to two litters, with an average of 1-6 pups per litter, each year.

Oriental small clawed otters mate for life.

After a gestation period of 60 days the pups are born furless, toothless and with their eyes closed.

By three months old the little otters are swimming but they remain with their parents until the birth of the next litter.


Oriental small clawed otters have been known to live in groups numbering up to 20.

They are most active at dawn and dusk which means they are crepuscular

They have a range of calls which are used for raising the alarm, greeting or courting.

They use common toileting areas which mark their territory.

Quick facts

A group of oriental small clawed otters escaped from captivity and set up a colony in England.