Interesting Facts About African Clawless Otter

African Clawless Otter , also called the Cape Clawless Otter, belongs to the ‘clawless’ otter group and inhabits freshwater and intertidal regions of Africa. Weighing between 10-21 kilograms, these otters have bodies measuring 1.2 to 1.5 meters in length, covered in brown-and-grey fur, and topped with long, stout tails. They feature long whiskers on their white-to-cream faces and move on short, clawless feet without webbing.

Latin NameAonyx capensis
Conservation StatusLeast Concern
Length73 – 95 cms (29 – 37 inches)
Tail41 – 67 cms (16 – 26 inches)
Weight10 – 16 Kgs (22 – 35 lbs)
Life ExpectancyUp to 11 Yrs (in Captivity)

Facts and Information

  • Size and Appearance:
    • Length: 29 to 37 inches
    • Weight: 22 to 80 pounds
    • Tail length: 16 to 26 inches
    • Sexual Dimorphism: Males larger than females
    • Fur: Thick, soft, chocolate-brown on dorsal side, light-colored on the belly
    • Facial Markings: White or creamy markings on face and throat
  • Anatomy:
    • Head: Large, broad head with strong jaws
    • Teeth: Large, flat molars adapted for crushing food
    • Limbs: Long fingers without claws on front feet, webbed hind feet
    • Tail: Long tail used for balancing and propulsion in water
  • Behavior:
    • Nocturnal: Active during the night
    • Aquatic Lifestyle: Spends most time in water, foraging for food and playing
    • Diet: Carnivorous, feeding on frogs, fish, worms, and crabs
    • Foraging: Uses front feet to find food hidden in rocks, logs, or mud
    • Sensory Adaptations: Sensitive whiskers for detecting movement in water
  • Habitat and Defense:
    • Burrowing: Digs burrows on riverbanks for hiding from predators and daytime heat
    • Predators: Main predators include crocodiles, pythons, and eagles
  • Social Structure:
    • Solitary: Typically solitary, occasionally forms groups of 5 to 6 individuals
    • Territorial Marking: Marks territory with substance produced in anal gland
  • Communication:
    • Vocalizations: Communicates through whistles, huffs, growls, and high-pitched screams for danger alerts
  • Reproduction:
    • Reproductive Cycle: Can reproduce year-round, with a preference for the rainy period (December)
    • Pregnancy: Lasts around 63 days, results in 1 to 5 pups
    • Parental Care: Mother cares for pups on her own, nursing period lasts 45 to 60 days
  • Life Cycle:
    • Independence: Young otters begin independent life at one year
    • Sexual Maturity: Attained at approximately one year
    • Lifespan: Survives 10 to 12 years in the wild, up to 15 years in captivity


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