Meet the Animals » Other Mammals » Opal and Pearl
Opal and Pearl
Asian Short-Clawed Otters Aonyx cinerea – Pearl & Opal
These two females came to us in 2007 from another animal collection that could no longer home them, they can also produce up to 6 young in a litter. We give the otters many forms of enrichment, often shellfish which they especially enjoy. They are encouraged to hunt for their food by feeding it to them in their pool.
These small otters are found throughout Asia in the mangrove swamps and freshwater wetlands, they feed on fish, small mammals, birds eggs and will sometimes eat berries and nuts. The otter has a very short dense coat and this helps to keep them warm when in the water, otters often dry themselves by rubbing on grass or logs, this is so that they can maintain their coat condition which is vital for their survival. They have long bodies and short legs, being agile swimmers with their hind legs propelling them through the water. They are mainly active during the day and have excellent vision. Their toes are only partially webbed, this allows for more dexterity particularly when handling food. They use their front paws extremely well and spend a lot of time opening shellfish. They have scent glands in their tail and deposit their musky scent on their faeces (known as spraint).
They are very sociable animals and often play, they communicate using a large variety of vocalizations, posturing and grooming. In captivity they can live up to 11 years.
Due to ongoing rapid habitat destruction, pollution and hunting in some areas they are evaluated as seriously threatened and are a protected species.
Did you know these are the smallest of all otters and they catch their prey with their paws instead of their mouths.