African clawless otter

Species profile

Name: the African clawless otter (Aonyx capensis) – also known as the Cape clawless or groot otter – is the second-largest species of freshwater otter after the giant otter.

Appearance: African clawless otters have thick brown fur with smooth, silky stomachs. They can be recognised by the white marks on their faces which extend down to their throats and chests. Unlike most otters, they have webbed paws with only a few claws on their rear paws, and none at all on the front.

Size: they grow to around 1.1 to 1.6 metres long and weigh from 10 to 36 kg.

Diet: African clawless otters eat crabs, fish, frogs, and worms. They dive after prey in the water using their paws to dig through muddy river bottoms. Their sensitive whiskers help them to pick up the movements of any potential prey.

Did you know: they are mostly solitary animals although some live in family groups of up to five individuals. Even within these groups however they are territorial, with each otter having their own range and mostly keeping to itself. They mark their territories using their anal glands which secrete a powerful scent.

Location: African clawless otters can be found in water bodies throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa. They inhabit open coastal plains, to semi-arid regions, and dense forests – usually preferring water bodies surrounded by vegetation where they can shelter.

Where to see African clawless otters

According to reports submitted to WildSide, you can see African clawless otters in the following places:

Place Chance to see User rating No. reports
Garden Route
South Africa
very high
very good

Photo credit: Helene Hoffman under a Creative Commons licence from Flickr

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