Otter, Asian Small-clawed

Aonyx cinerea

The Asian small-clawed otter is the smallest of all 13 otter species. They are named for their tiny claws that aid in better handling of their prey. The Asian small-clawed otter has a body length of 2-3 feet with an additional 8-12 inches in tail length, and can weigh between two and 11 pounds. Their coat is brown in color with a lighter underside.








The range of the Asian small-clawed otter encompasses southern and southeastern Asia, including areas of India, Indonesian islands, Malaysia, Southeast Asia, Taiwan, southern China, and Palawan in the Philippines.


Watery habitats that provide shallows or pools for hunting, denning areas along banks, and sheltering vegetation.

Life Expectancy

In the wild up to 10 years; around 11 years in captivity.

Sexual Maturity


Diet includes invertebrates such as crabs, mollusks, snails, as well as small vertebrates such as bird, rodents, and snakes


IUCN – Vulnerable


The Asian small clawed otter is a sociable animal, living in family groups that are made up of up to 12 individuals. Females give birth to a litter of usually one or two pups, sometimes twice a year. However, a litter can consist of up to 7 pups. The gestation period lasts 60-64 days. Both parents contribute to raising the offspring, and form a monogamous pair. Asian small-clawed otters spend most of their time foraging, grooming, or resting. When feeding, they use their front paws with small claws to locate their prey in the mud. When eating molluscs and crustaceans, they use their strong teeth to crush the shells. Asian small-clawed otters are also very vocal creatures, with at least 12 calls for communication.


Elongated body and webbed feet to aid in swimming. The heart rate and oxygen consumption are also reduced when diving.

Special Interests

Whiskers help it to detect changes in water current and pressure.



With rapidly declining habitat, range and population, the Asian small-clawed otter moved from Near Threatened status in 2004 to the more serious Vulnerable category in 2008. The population in the wild is unknown, with some estimates at 5,000 and others at far fewer. Once common, Asian small-clawed otters are locally extinct in Hong Kong, Singapore and in India’s Sunderbans and East Calcutta. While all otter species have “Protected Status” under Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and killing is prohibited in most range countries, enforcement remains very limited. Major threats to the species include habitat destruction and reduction in prey biomass.

Jacksonville Zoo History

The Asian small-clawed otter arrived at the Jacksonville Zoo in 2014.


Land of the Tiger