Asian Small-Clawed Otter
The Asian small-clawed otter is a semi-aquatic mammal that is found in the southeastern part of Asia. The mammal belongs to the family of Mustelidae and subfamily of the otter. It is the smallest species if otter known in the world. The mammal has paws that are distinctive to the others, as they do not protrude beyond its webbed fingers. The way its claws are located gives it an advantage regarding dexterity as it uses them to feed on crabs and other trivial animals. The Asian small-clawed otter is often found inside the mangrove swamps in the south of Asia (Aziz 3). There are others that are found in the freshwater. The animal species mostly live in the extended families. In the families, only the alpha pairs are allowed to breed as the offspring’s that had been born from the previous generations help in taking care of the young ones. As a result of the environmental pollutions and increased hunting of the mammal, it has become one of the most endangered species. The animal was listed as the most vulnerable in the Red List of Asia.
The Asian small-clawed otter
According to Moretti et al., the Asian small-clawed otter was originally considered to be the only remaining member of the amblonyx (44). The species was later grouped to the genus aonyx after its DNA was analyzed. However, the latest studies show that the animals are closely related to the genus lutrogale. The scientific name for Asian small-clawed otter is Aonyx cinereus.
The Asian small-clawed otters are known to be the smallest of all the otter species. It has a length which ranges from seventy meters to one hundred meters. The weight is usually 5.4 kilograms maximum with a streamlined slender body. The animal grooms most of the time because of the flexibility that it has. On appearance, the Asian small-clawed otter has a dark and brown cover with a cream fur at the nosal surface. Its body structure allows it to swim in the swampy ground. Just like the other types of otters, the Asian small-clawed otters have short legs. The short legs with then narrow webbed feet are all used for swimming and grooming as well as manipulating the prey (Manns et al. 56). It has webbed feet that separate the Asian small-clawed otter from the other species of otter. The way they catch their prey is also different from the other types of the otters. Instead of using their mouth, they use their feet.
One of the most notable features of Asian small-clawed otter is the long tail that is masculine and is about a third of the total body length (Cianfrani et al. 32). The tail has several functions, including swimming and coordination. The tail provides it with the power to propel itself while swimming and gives it the balance while standing in the two of its hind legs.
Concerning its distribution, the Asian small-clawed otter is found mainly in the coastal regions of Asia. It spreads across from the southern part of India to the Palawan islands. The main habitats are the freshwater places like the mangroves and the meandering rivers (Schmelz et al. 77). The animals prefer habituating in the rice fields as well as the bare river banks as it wonders in the reeds. Most of these animals are diurnal as they are found in the remote areas where there are little or no disturbance from the humans. Others have adapted the villages as well. They mainly feed on the invertebrates such as the mollusks and crustaceans, insects and fish are also their sources of nutrition.
Aziz, M. Abdul. “Notes on Population Status and Feeding Behaviour of Asian Small-Clawed Otter (Aonyx cinerea) in the Sundarbans Mangrove Forest of Bangladesh.” IUCN Otter Spec. Group Bull 35.1 (2018): 3-10.
Cianfrani, C., et al. “More than range exposure: Global otter vulnerability to climate change.” Biological Conservation 221 (2018): 103-113.
Manns, Martina, et al. “Paw preferences in the Asian small-clawed otter–using an inexpensive, video-based protocol to study laterality of rare species in the zoo.” Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain, and Cognition (2018): 1-16.
Moretti, Beatrice, et al. “Phylogeography of the smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata): distinct evolutionary lineages and hybridization with the Asian small-clawed otter (Aonyx cinerea).” Scientific Reports 7 (2017): 41611.
Schmelz, Martin, et al. “Cooperative problem solving in giant otters (Pteronura brasiliensis) and Asian small-clawed otters (Aonyx cinerea).” Animal cognition 20.6 (2017): 1107-1114.
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