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 64cm and a tail length of 25 to 35cm. Asian Small-clawed Otters have fully webbed 'feet' and partially webbed 'hands', which greatly assist survival in their primarily aquatic lifestyle.
Asian small-clawed Otters are found in South-East Asia in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, South China and Himalayan regions. They select areas with equal amounts of land and running water. They will inhabit rivers, streams, rice paddies and coastal mangroves. They build a den into the side of a river bank called a holt.
The diet of the Asian Small-clawed Otter consists of fish, crustaceans and shellfish, small land prey and eggs. In the wild they can take down prey twice their own size. In captivity a variety of seafoods and meats can be added to their diet, as well as treats such as peanuts and corn. They are excellent hunters due to their speed. They have a very streamlined body for fast swimming and agility - they have one of the most flexible backbones of all vertebrates. In the wild Asian Small-clawed Otters eat one third of their body weight in food each day. Otters are very active and have an extremely high metabolism. They can spend 40-60% of the day just on hunting and eating.
Asian Small-clawed Otters are sexually mature as early as 12 months of age, but usually do not reproduce until 2 to 3 years of age. They mate for life and can produce two litters of young per year. Each of these litters can produce up to six cubs.
Otters are very social and will live in large family groups of up to 20 individuals.
In the wild, Asian Small-clawed Otters generally live to the age of eight to 10 years, but in captivity they are capable of living to the age of 20.
Asian Small Clawed Otter Profiles
Age: 17 Years (DOB 4/3/1998)
Maria is a long-term resident of Australia Zoo, having arrived way back in 1999 as a cheeky one year old. She never hesitated to get up to all sorts of mischief in her younger years, becoming renowned as one of the noisiest animals on the block! No matter what was going on - be it an interactive session, play time or during one of our demonstrations, Maria would be (very loudly!) voicing her opinions.
As the years have gone by, however, Maria has mellowed into one of the most tender, gentle little animals you could hope to meet. She has enormous trust in her keepers and will often be seen following closely at their heels, involving herself in their duties. She is also very close with her housemate Rosie, and the two can often be seen enjoying luxurious activities such as grooming one another, rolling around together, and curling up with each other for a nap in the sun. But every now and again Maria will surprise us, egging Rosie on to join in a wrestling match in the pond as though she were still just a couple of years old!
Maria is easy to identify, being much more white in her chest and whiskers than Rosie, and also generally being the more laid-back of the two.
Rosie is the newest addition to the Australia Zoo otter family, arriving in late 2010. Although she was the newcomer, she has so much personality that she quickly became the leader of the group, and now leads Maria through the daily routine! She is very distinct in appearance with golden whiskers compared to Maria who has much whiter fur on her chest, and also stands out due to the fact that she has energy to spare!
Rosie is an incredibly cheeky and playful otter who loves her daily interactive sessions with her keepers. She is very clever and loves her food, so is quick to pick up new skills when her favourite treats are offered as a reward! Rosie has become very protective of Maria. The two girls are inseparable, often seen grooming each other or curled up enjoying the sun together. Everywhere Rosie goes, Maria is two steps behind!