The Cape Clawless Otter (Aonyx capensis)
otter occurs from South Africa northwards to Ethiopia and Senegal, but is absent
from the central rainforest areas. The Cape Clawless Otter is similar in
appearance to the Asianger. Although it is born with tiny claws it loses these on
all toes except the middle three on the hind feet. There is no webbing and it can
therefore use its "fingers" more freely than other species.
It captures most of its prey in its paws, hunting by sight and also using
the long vibrissae (whiskers) which help when hunting in murky waters.
These otters are active generally during the late afternoon and early evening,
and like many otter species
have set sprainting points and grooming areas. They are usually
seen alone or in pairs, but occasionally they can be seen in family groups of up
to five animals.
Young otters go through rituals of fighting and romping. They often
pick up an object, juggle with it, throw it in the water and attempt to retrieve
it before it falls to the bottom. These games probably help the youngsters to
practice skills they will need to capture prey in later life.
Conservation Status: Least Concern
Size: 1.1 – 1.6man>
Litter size: Up to 3, born in
Threats: Increasing human population,
farming and overgrazing.
Endangered status: Low risk
Distribution of the Cape Clawless Otter (Aonyx capensis)
Data based on Otters and Action Plan for their conservation (IUCN 1990) and world otters (IOSF 2005)