Otter Mangrove Adventures

Our assistant leading the otters to the tide pools
for the very first time. They always followed
so close behind. Now at 7 months, they are not
so easy to lure back into the cage!
Once the otters learned to swim well in the creek around 3 months old, we began to take them to the mangroves and tide pools nearby so they could forage on their own. Sometimes we drive to the mangroves and sometimes we take them in our own local banca, or pump boat. They are from a mangrove forest a few kilometers away. Their mother was killed when the villagers were clearing land.

These Asian small-clawed otters live on land near bodies of water such as rivers, mangroves, rice fields, as opposed to the sea, like most other otters. Their hands are partially webbed which gives them a great deal of dexterity.

Small-clawed otters live in family groups of up to 12. The parents mate for life and each subsequent litter of pups raises the next. The siblings do not leave the fold until one of the parents dies or is killed, as is the case of these otters. Their whole family was disbanded when their mother was accidentally killed.

The local children had never seen an otter up close before. They said they have seen and heard wild otters in the mangroves early in the morning and at dusk.
Photo by Dave Dewbre. One of the otters after it jumped off the pump boat and into the water
Yup, that's me, taking a video of the otters with my GoPro Hero2. Photo by Dave Dewbre
The otter's main diet in the wild is mudskippers, mollusks, and crabs. Photo by Dave Dewbre
Photo by Dave Dewbre

When they are not foraging or eating, they are playing. They are very clever and even will work together as a team to find a way out of their enclosure.

Before the end of this year, we hope they can safely be released into their original habitat. Or nearby so they will not fight over territory with the other resident females.

Unfortunately, many otters are confiscated from illegal wildlife traders to be sold as pets, here and abroad. Some are skinned for their fur.

Check out the various otter organizations and find out how you can help the plight of the otters, which have become vulnerable worldwide. On Facebook, give them a like and share so that more people will understand how wonderful these creatures are and how important they are to our environment.

Here is the organization that helped me keep the otters alive with their advice.
International Otter Survival Fund.

Otter Conservation News

IUCN/SSC Otter Specialist Group

Otter pup startled by a smallish wave! He almost flew across the water he was so scared! The pup or kits was 5 months old in this photo.
Aonyx cinerea, asian small clawed otter
Otter pup successfully caught his own crab!