Animal Diaries Archive
15 October 2004The Asian Small-Clawed Otter is a very active and extremely intelligent animal. For these two reasons we provide our girls, Bonnie and Maria, with plenty of enrichment. The otters are so strongly bonded that they always find fun things to do together, but then when a keeper jumps in with something different they become very inquisitive. We use a variety of different things including balls, browse, scent sprays and even a mirror, but the things that get the most response are always the toys that involve food. There is no greater love in an otter's life than food, and because Bonnie and Maria don't have to hunt for their food like wild otters, we like to make them do some work for their meal.
We have plastic balls and pipes with holes in them, so that the girls either have to put their hands inside to pull items out, or roll it around so that the pieces fall out. Food can also be put into egg cartons, cardboard boxes, under a cup or wrapped in leaves. The otters then have to open their parcel to get to the prize.
By far one of their favourite activities is a live feed in their pond, either crayfish or tiny fish. It is very exciting to watch the girls catch their own dinner. Enrichment activities should bring out the natural abilities in the animal, and this is very true for the otters. This species has very dexterous front hands. This means they are very good at using their paws. In the wild, otters would use them to prise open shellfish, delve into small crevices and hold on tightly to slippery prey; we simply try to simulate activities like these. Being so smart, the girls never fail to work out a new activity quickly, but the otters (and their keepers) have a lot of fun in the process.
Our Amazing Asian Small-clawed Otters
Both sexes generally weigh between 2.5 to 3kg. Of the 13 species of otter found throughout the world, this is the smallest, attaining a body length of 41 to 64c ...more