Oriental Short Clawed Otter | Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures

Oriental Short Clawed Otter | Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures

Oriental Short-Clawed Otter Overview


The Oriental short-clawed otter is a small, slender otter species with a streamlined body. It has dense, velvety fur that ranges in color from brown to gray, and it is often paler on the underside. Its webbed feet and short claws are adapted for swimming and digging.

These otters have a small, flattened head with a short snout, and their eyes are positioned high on the head. They are among the smallest otter species, making them well-suited for their semi-aquatic lifestyle.

Origins And Evolution

The Oriental short-clawed otter, scientifically known as Aonyx cinereus, has an evolutionary history rooted in the fascinating lineage of otters. Belonging to the subfamily Lutrinae, these otters have ancient origins dating back millions of years.

Their ancestors were among the earliest mammals to adapt to semi-aquatic lifestyles. Over time, otters developed various adaptations, such as webbed feet, streamlined bodies, and waterproof fur, which allowed them to excel in aquatic environments.

The Oriental short-clawed otter, with its small size and specialized claws for handling prey, is a testament to the diversity of otter evolution. These otters are unique and captivating members of the Mustelidae family, showcasing the remarkable journey of mammalian evolution.

Behavior and Lifestyle

Oriental short-clawed otters are highly social and often form close-knit family groups. They are primarily crepuscular and nocturnal, meaning they are most active during dawn and dusk and throughout the night.

These otters are excellent swimmers and are commonly found in freshwater habitats such as rivers, streams, and mangrove swamps. They feed on a diet of aquatic invertebrates, small fish, and crustaceans, which they catch using their dexterous and sensitive paws.

Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Mustelidae
  • Genus: Aonyx
  • Species: Aonyx cinereus


  • Southeast Asia
  • South Asia
  • Southern China
  • Indonesia
  • Philippines
  • Vietnam
  • Thailand
  • Malaysia
  • Bangladesh
  • Sri Lanka

Fast Facts

  • Name: Short-Clawed Otter
  • Scientific Name: Aonyx cinereus
  • Habitat: Wetlands, Rivers
  • Diet: Aquatic Prey
  • Physical Features: Small Paws
  • Nocturnal: Mostly Night
  • Solitary: Social Groups
  • Unique Order: Carnivora Family
  • Lifespan: 8-10 years
  • Conservation Status: Vulnerable
  • Fun Facts: Tool Users, Vocal Chatter

Physical Characteristics

  • Color: Brown Fur
  • Skin Type: Dense Coat
  • Top Speed: Agile Swimmer
  • Lifespan: 8-10 years
  • Weight: 5-11 lbs
  • Length: 2-3 ft
  • Age of Sexual Maturity: 1-2 years
  • Age of Weaning: 3-4 months


What is the Oriental short-clawed otter's scientific name?

The scientific name of the Oriental short-clawed otter is Aonyx cinereus.

Where is the Oriental short-clawed otter found in the wild?

These otters are native to various freshwater habitats across Southeast Asia, South Asia, and parts of southern China.

Are Oriental short-clawed otters good swimmers?

Yes, they are agile swimmers and are well adapted to their semi-aquatic lifestyle.

What do Oriental short-clawed otters eat?

They primarily feed on aquatic invertebrates, small fish, crustaceans, and amphibians.

Are Oriental short-clawed otters social animals?

Yes, they are highly social and often form close-knit family groups, exhibiting significant social behavior.

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