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Asian Small-Clawed Otter : Diet

Aonyx Cinerea


Asian Short-Clawed otters eat crabs, snails, crayfish, molluscs, frogs and small fish. Because their diet leans towards hard-shelled prey, their cheek teeth have enlarged and broadened to be better at crushing than slicing.

As their diet is different from the River otter, there is little direct competition between the two species where they share territory.


The otters have very dextrous forepaws with which they rummage in the mud and under pebbles for their prey. These paws are very sensitive and nimble (they are also rubbery!) This makes them very good jugglers - from pebbles to hazelnuts.

Unfortunately, the otters are sometimes regarded as pests by rice farmers because they uproot growing plants. But in fact, they eat small crustaceans which are the real pests in the rice fields.

Once food is found, the otter will hold it in its forepaws to eat. Stubborn shellfish are stored up on the shore until they crack open in the sun. Otters will often wash their food before eating them.

Fisherman's Friend

In parts of Asia, the Short-claw have been trained to catch and bring fish to their owners. Others are bred by fishermen to drive shoals of fish into their nets. The otters are harnessed in a long line and allowed to eat any fish they catch.

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