Asian short-clawed otter

Aonyx cinerea

NZ Otters
IUCN Conservation Status –
Least Concern
Extinct In The Wild
Class: Mammals
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae

We have a family of Asian short-clawed otters here at the zoo – dad Topan, and his offspring, Midge, Lloyd and Tamale.

Asian short-clawed otters can be found in freshwater wetlands and mangrove swamps, in southern India to southern China to the Malay Peninsula.

In the wild, their diet mainly consist of fish, crabs, molluscs and snails. However, they have been known to prey on insects, snakes, lizards and some small species of rodent.

Interesting facts!

  • Out of all 13 species of otter, the Asian short-clawed otter is the smallest,  measuring less than one metre in length when fully grown.
  • They are very sociable animals living in family groups of around 12 individuals – the group usually consists of one breeding pair who are monogamous and pair for life, and their young.
  • Asian short-clawed otters are one of the most vocal species with up to 12 vocalisations to communicate within the group. They use a series of yips, barks and whistles including greeting, mating and distress calls.
  • They have two layers of dense fur which creates a waterproof coat, they also have a layer of fat to keep them warm whilst they’re in water.


Asian short-clawed otters are classified as Vulnerable, this is mainly due to habitat loss and also from pollution and overfishing, which affects the fish and crustaceans that the otters feed on.