Oriental Small Clawed Otter Fact File


The Oriental small clawed otter is the smallest of the 13 otter species. Their body measures 45-61cm (18-24in) with the tail adding a further 25-35cm (10-14in). They weigh just 1-1.5kg (2.25-11lb)

The back feet of this species is fully webbed and the front feet are partially webbed. Their claws do not go past their feet pads.

Their body is covered in dark brown fur which is quite short. On the underside their fur is a pale brown and white around the face, throat and chest.


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 eat lizards, frogs, mice and eggs.


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


In their natural habitat oriental small clawed otters inhabit swamps, forest, grassland, wetlands, 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 otter

Scientific Name

Aonyx Cinerea

Conservation Status



1-1.5kg (2.25-11lbs)


45-61cm (18-24in)


Wild 10 years

Captive 20 years



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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. Each member of the otter family will assist with caring

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



Oriental small clawed otters are highly social and have been known to live in groups numbering up to 20. Individuals mate for life. Females are dominant within the group.

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.

They are also known as the Asian short clawed otter.

Malay fisherman have taught these otters to catch fish for them.

Photo Gallery

oriental short clawed otter
oriental short clawed otter
oriental short clawed otter
oriental short clawed otter

Photo Credits

Copyright. The Animal Facts


Wright, L., de Silva, P., Chan, B. & Reza Lubis, I. 2015. Aonyx cinereus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T44166A21939068. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-2.RLTS.T44166A21939068.en. Downloaded on 20 May 2020.

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