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. Otters have one of the most flexible backbones of all vertebrates, as well as a very streamlined body for fast swimming and agility. 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 through 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. Otters will inhabit rivers, streams, rice paddies and coastal mangroves. They build a den, called a holt, into the side of river banks.
The diet of the Asian small-clawed otter consists of fish, crustaceans, shellfish, small land prey and eggs. In the wild they can take down prey twice their own size. They are excellent hunters due to their speed. Asian small-clawed otters eat one third of their body weight in food each day. They are very active and have an extremely high metabolism. They can spend 40-60% of their 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 2-3 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 ten years, but in captivity they are capable of living to the age of 20.
Asian Small Clawed Otter Profiles
Age: 14 Years (DOB 8/4/2001)
Kaos arrived at Australia Zoo in August 2015 with his brothers Mayhem and Lou. Kaos is the largest otter in the group, and although he looks quite similar to Mayhem in appearance, he has several whiskers pointing up on the top of his head which make him unique. He has a very calm and relaxed demeanour and really enjoys affection from his keepers. Kaos loves to sun bake and can often be seen lying on his back in the sun playing with pieces of mulch. He is also incredibly clever and very quick to pick up new behaviours. He even waves hello to guests!
Age: 10 Years (DOB 30/5/2005)
Lou is the smallest otter of the group, but has some of the biggest responsibilities! He is responsible for marking their territory daily, and can be seen waving his tail across the ground to spread their distinct smell about. He has also claimed nest building responsibilities and carefully builds the perfect nest each night for the group to sleep in. He was the first of the boys to form a bond with Rosie, and while he often spends one-on-one time with her, he still saves quality time to spend with his brothers. Lou really just likes to take care of everyone, and often actively shares his food to the other three otters!
Age: 14 Years (DOB 8/4/2001)
Mayhem is the boss of the group, and can often be seen sitting up on the highest point of their home, surveying the world around him, and making sure his family is safe. Although Mayhem and Kaos are quite similar in appearance, Mayhem is much darker and has a sleeker face. He loves his food, enjoying a wide variety in his diet including fish, squid, mussels, prawns and crayfish. He will be the one making the most noise when it comes to dinner time to make sure he doesn’t miss out!
Age: 12 Years (DOB 10/2/2003)
Rosie arrived at Australia Zoo in late 2010. She resides with our three male otters but is very distinct in appearance, with her golden yellow whiskers making her a stand out next to the boys. While she enjoys the company of all three brothers, she has a particular attachment to Lou. The two of them can often be seen sitting together grooming each other. Rosie has so much personality and is an incredibly cheeky, playful otter who loves daily interaction. She is very clever, loves her food, and so quickly picks up new skills when treats are on offer!