Area of zoo
Base Camp
Enclosure status
IUCN status
Scientific name
Aonyx cinereus

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Asian short-clawed otter facts

Ernie the male Asian short-clawed otter at Whipsnade Zoo

What do Asian short-clawed otters look like?

Asian small-clawed otters, also known as oriental small-clawed otters, are the smallest of thirteen species of otter. As their name suggests, they have short claws that reach no further than their digits. These allow them to use their paws to effectively feel for food, such as crustaceans, in muddy banks. Extremely dexterous, Asian short-clawed otters catch their prey with their partially-webbed paws instead of with their mouth (unlike other otters).  

The otters are also streamlined with flattened tails that they use to propel them through the water. Otters' eyes are designed so that they can see equally as well in water as out.

Incredibly, young otters do not open their eyes until they are 40 days old, taking their first swim after about nine weeks old.

What do Asian short-clawed otters eat? 

You will often see these otters eating freshwater shrimps, crabs, mussels, frogs and snails. 

What threats do Asian short-clawed otters face in the wild?

Asian short-clawed otters are under threat from deforestation, habitat destruction, water pollution, and hunting. They are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN red list

Are there otters at Whipsnade Zoo?

Yes, Whipsnade Zoo is home to a family of Asian short-clawed otters - you'll find them in the Base Camp area of the Zoo, close to our red pandas. 

Visit our otters at Whipsnade Zoo

An Asian short-clawed otter at Whipsnade Zoo


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  • Ernie the Otter at Whipsnade Zoo

    Whipsnade Zoo Map

    Visit our otters in the Base Camp area of the Zoo

  • Asian elephant herd in the wild
    Leading wildlife conservation


    When you have a big day out at Whipsnade Zoo, you’re helping animals around the world – in a big way!

  • Ruby the red panda in a tree at Whipsnade Zoo
    Ailurus fulgens

    Red Panda

    A red panda's diet mainly consists of bamboo, and they have thick fur to protect them from their rainy, mountainous habitat in the Himalayas

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