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Wee Pile 'o Otter Pups Born at Emmen Zoo

Otter emmen pile

How many furry heads do you see in that Otter pup pile? There are four Asian Small-clawed Otters in all, born at Emmen Zoo in mid April. For the most part, keepers have left the babies alone to bond with mom and the other members of the family, who all pitch in, though  a vet check on May 21, it was determined that two were boys and two were girls! Newborn Otters are blind, deaf and totally dependent on their parents. They nurse for about seven weeks before they begin to start on solid foods. This is also about the time they open their eyes. Both Otter parents help to raise their pups, often assisted by previous offspring!

The smallest species of otter in the world, weighing less than 11 pounds (5 kg), they are considered Vulnerable by the IUCN, due to ongoing habitat loss, pollution, and hunting. They are found in fresh water in the wetlands, rivers and marshy areas along the coast in the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, India, southern China,Taiwan, Laos, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and  Burma.

Otter vet

Otter vet check crop
Photo Credit: Emmen Zoo

Asian Small-clawed Otters (Aonyx cinerea) are named as such because its claws, as you can see, do not grow past the pads of its partially webbed digits. This allows them to use their paws much like we use our hands, which helps when on a diet of feed on mollusks, crabs and shellfish.