A pile of pups has arrived at the United Kingdom’s Exmoor Zoo: a litter of seven Asian Small-clawed Otters, born in 2012, is enchanting zoo visitors with adorable antics. The smallest of the world’s Otter species, Asian Small-clawed Otters are native to the swamps and wetlands of Southeast Asia.
Photo Credits: John Hammond (1,2,6,8), Exmoor Zoo (3,4,5,7,9)
Reaching a length of about three feet (90 cm) including the tail, these Otters are excellent swimmers. Streamlined torpedo-shaped bodies, flattened heads, and short legs allow Otters to move through the water quickly. Partially-webbed paws give these Otters the ability to manipulate the mollusks, crabs, and other aquatic animals on which they feed.
Asian Small-clawed Otters build dens in riverbanks, where they live in extended family groups. Scent is very important for communication: their feces, called spraint, are used as territorial markers to establish boundaries. The Otters also construct small mounds of gravel, sand, or mud, then mark these mounds with their scent glands.
Listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Asian Small-clawed Otters are threatened by rapid habitat loss and pollution.
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