Asian Small-Clawed Otters

The smallest of the 13 otter species, Asian small-clawed otters are only 26 to 37 inches long and weigh just 2 to 11 pounds. As their name tells us, they have small, blunt peglike claws. These claws, combined with their sensitive paws, help otters catch crustaceans, molluscs, and frogs from the silty riverbeds of their home range.

Although they are extremely vocal, scent is the most important communication for these otters and all freshwater otters. Each otter’s scent is as individual as a fingerprint. They use their scent to mark their territory, which they vigilantly patrol and defend.

Stop by the Sea Garden for a chance to see our otters, or pose for a photo with one on the Sea Lion and Otters Up-Close Tour!

The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund has provided a grant to Conservation International’s Cambodian Otter Conservation Project. Cambodia is a crucial region for four otter species, including the Asian small-clawed otter. With help from the Fund, Conservation International works to educate communities about the importance of the local wetland habitats for all animals and monitors otter populations.

Q: Where are Asian small-clawed otters found?
SW: Asian small-clawed otters are found in Southeast Asia — from northern India to southeastern China, the Malay Peninsula, and parts of Indonesia. They prefer freshwater and brackish habitats such as rivers, creeks, estuaries, and coastal waters. They may also spend a considerable amount of time out of the water, traveling considerable distances between waterways.

Q: Are they endangered?
SW: Asian small-clawed otters are protected by international law - they're threatened with extinction due to habitat loss, pollution and demand for their thick, velvety fur.

Q: How is SeaWorld helping these otters?
SW: SeaWorld’s Asian small-clawed otters are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plans, the goal of which is to preserve, in zoos and aquariums, species that are threatened or endangered in the wild.