ASIAN OR ORIENTAL SMALL-CLAWED OTTER/Behaviour, Distribution, Habitat, Size, Weight, IUCN stetus

ASIAN OR ORIENTAL SMALL-CLAWED OTTER

ASIAN OR ORIENTAL SMALL-CLAWED OTTER


DESCRIPTION: The smallest otter in the world, the Small-clawed Otter has incomplete webbing on its digits and short, spiky claws. It dorsal fur is short, velvety and dark brown with a grey sheen, and its underside is light brown to yellow. The sides of its lip, chin and throat are almost white. The pink nose pad is trapezoid in shape and the nostrils are placed below a sharp tip of the nose. The eyes are larger, proportional to the head, than other otters, giving it a babyish look. The last two teeth in the upper jaw are large in size, giving it an advantage in crushing crustacean exoskeletons. The incomplete webbing also gives it more dexterity in handling crustaceans. The tail is about a third of total body length and is long, thick and muscular.

BEHAVIOUR: Largely a crab and shellfish eater, it is not as dependent on fish for its diet and catches its prey with its paws and not mouth like other otters.

DISTRIBUTION: A.c. concolor in Himalayan foothills, eastern and north-eastern India;  A.c. nirnai in the hills of southern India Coorg in Karnataka, Ashambu, Nilgiri and Palni Hills of Tamil Nadu and Kerala

HABITAT: Rivers, streams, coastal wetlands, mangroves,  marshes and flooded paddy fields. In southern India, prefers hill stream pools rather than cascades.

 Size: 43–46 cm

IUCN Status: Vulnerable

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