Congo Clawless Otter

Congo Clawless Otter

Mammalia

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

COMMON NAME: Congo clawless otter
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Carnivora
FAMILY: Mustelidae
GENUS SPECIES: Aonyx congica

FAST FACTS

DESCRIPTION: Congo clawless otters are characterized by only partial webbing (between the toes of their back feet and no webbing on their front feet), and small, blunt, peg-like claws. Other otters have fully webbed feet and strong, well-developed claws.
Clawless otters have slender, serpentine bodies with dense, luxurious fur and long tails.
SIZE: Head & body length: 600-1,000 mm (24-39 in.)
Tail length: 400-710 mm (16-28 in.)
WEIGHT: 13-20 kg (29-44 lb.)
DIET: Probably feed on fairly soft prey items such as small land vertebrates, frogs, and eggs
GESTATION: Approximately 2 months; Litters of 2-3 pups
NURSING DURATION Clawless otters open their eyes at about 40 days, and first swim at 9 weeks. They take their first solid food at about 80 days.
SEXUAL MATURITY: Probably at about 12 months
LIFE SPAN: Probably an average of 10-15 years
RANGE: In central equatorial Africa; from southeastern Nigeria to Gabon, down to Uganda and Burundi.
HABITAT: Appear to inhabit only small, mountain streams in areas of thick rain forest and lowland swamps. They are thought to be more terrestrial in nature than other otter species.
POPULATION: GLOBAL No data
STATUS: IUCN Density Dependent
CITES Appendix I
USFWS Endangered

FUN FACTS

1. Very little is known about this species. It is a small otter and found only in the mid-part of Africa, in the tropical belt. It is believed to spend much more time on land than other otters.
2. Congo clawless otters are one of 13 species of otters in the carnivore family Mustelidae. Other members of this family include weasels, skunks, and ferrets.
3. An individual otter maintains a territory. Otters mark their territories with scent, and fervently patrol and defend their territories.
4. Clawless otters have very sensitive forepaws. They use their forepaws for foraging.
5. The Congo clawless otter actually does have small claws on all of its digits.

ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION

All otters have been exploited for their thick, velvety fur. All species of otters are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) - a worldwide treaty developed in 1973 to regulate trade in wildlife species.

Due to commercial hunting for meat and fur, Congo clawless otter population numbers have undergone severe declines especially in Nigeria and Cameroon.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Nowak, Ronald M. (ed.). Walker's Mammals of the World. Vol. I. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

Parker, S. (ed.). Grizmek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. Vol. IV. New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Co., 1990.

IUCN Redlist: http://www.redlist.org/search/details.php?species=1794