African Clawless Otter

African Clawless Otter - Aonyx capensis

IUCN status: Near Threatened
Latin name: Aonyx capensis
alias: white-cheeked otter, Cape clawless otter
predators: crocodiles, leopards and other large carnivores
threats: habitat loss, hunting, poaching
size: 115-160 cm (body 72-95 cm, tail 40-60 cm)
weight: 12-19 kg

The third largest species in the world, the African clawless otter (Aonyx capensis) is highly versatile and can be found in unpolluted rivers, lakes, dams, swamps and marshes: wherever freshwater crabs, its main food, are present. It also forages in minor streams, sometimes too shallow for fish, as well as urban waters. The African clawless otter has been found to travel through and sometimes inhabit polluted systems in parts of their range, but the long-term costs of doing so are yet to be determined. It has crepuscular habits and can hunt in very murky water thanks to its long and sensitive whiskers. The African clawless otter has large molars adapted to crushing crabs and lobsters, but will also prey on frogs, fish and insects. The extremely reduced claws and webbing on its paws gives this species incredible dexterity. It is usually solitary, but when prey is abundant it can be found in family groups of a female with her offspring or, more rarely, a male and a female with their young.