A Watery Romp with Asian Small-Clawed Otter Pups
March 20, 2013
Zoo Heidelberg's young Asian Small-Clawed Otters are all play! Born last November, the two pups are healthy but not quite hardy enough to stay outside in the cold. After swimming, running and jumping, they snuggle up in their warm indoor enclosure.
The newborns each weighed a miniscule 1.8 ounces (50 grams) at birth. Completely dependent on parental care, Asian Small-Clawed otter pups are born naked and are blind until they open their eyes at six weeks old. At seven weeks, they begin to play and explore. The young otters reach maturity at two years, but may stay with their parents to help raise the next litter. Breeding pairs form strong bonds and mate for life.
Asian Small-Clawed Otters are the smallest of otters. They have a wide range, from southern India through the Philippines and southern China. Mostly a freshwater species, they spend more time on land than other otters do. Their feet have two unusual traits: their short claws do not extend past the pads of their feet, and they do not have webbing between their toes. These adaptations help them to forage underwater for snails, crabs and other invertebrates along the bottom. Small-Clawed Otters are often welcome in rice paddies because eat crop pests like crabs.
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