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About Otters

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Otter Species

Otters around the world

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The Mustelid Family

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African Otters

Asian Otters

Otter-like animals have inhabited the earth for the last 30 million years and over the years have undergone subtle changes to the carnivore bodies to exploit the rich aquatic environment.

Otters are members of the Mustelid family which includes badgers, polecats, martens, weasels, stoats and mink.

You can find out more about each of the 13 species below and check out their current conservation status in the Red Data List.

You can find out more about each species in “Otters of the World” available at the Ottershop.

Hairy Nosed Otter (Lutra sumatrana)

SIZE 1.05 to 1.34 m
WEIGHT 5 to 8 kg
HOME RANGE The otters will move from one area to the other often-travelling very long distances.
CONSERVATION STATUS: Endangered Click here
THE THREAT TO THE SPECIES: The main threats to the otter are disturbance by human activities such as fishing, cultivating crops and vegetable. These activities cause various negative impacts on the otter habitat such as destruction of holts, reduction of food resources and pollution caused by the use of pesticides. Hunting is another major threat, particularly in south-east Asia - for every tiger skin found there are at least 10 otter skins and hunters can getup to $200 for each pelt.

Reed Meadows: This consists of very tall reeds that are densely packed and can grow up to 3m. The standing water under the reeds supports abundant fish, crabs and molluscs.


Phragmites reed meadow

Open swamps: Water is shallow and covered by floating vegetation. The habitat has abundant fish for the otters but no cover so the otters only use these areas for foraging.


The open swamp habitat

Reed meadow mixed with mature trees: The ground has much shallow water and the habitat provides the otter with ample fishing the tree roots provide holts and dry land.

Canals: This is the main habitat for the otters, they provide the main feeding areas and the banks are dry covered with dense vegetation.



Canals and banks


Skin of Hairy Nosed Otter caught by hunters

Distribution of the Hairy Nosed Otter (Lutra sumatrana)

Hairy Nosed Otters are present in Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Sumatra (Indonesia) and Sabah (Malaysia), but the populations are isolated and vulnerable. Hairy Nosed Otters used to be present in northern Myanmar (formerly Burma) and there are reports that they may still be there but this has not yet been confirmed.

Distribution of the Hairy Nosed Otter (Lutra sumatrana)

Data based on Otters of the World (IOSF 2015)