Sleek Underwater Hunter

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In the wetlands, rivers and coastal areas of eastern India and Southeast Asia, lives a group of cute, but naughty little animal known as smooth otters. Similar to other otter species, they are good at hunting small fish, crabs and waterfowls.

The life of smooth otters depends on good freshwater and coastal ecosystems, and are often considered as important biological indicators of good wetland ecosystems.

Cute, but with grumpy heart

The appearance of smooth otter is very similar to that of other otter species. Compared with other otter species, smooth otter is more “sleek” – its fur is shorter and smoother, its tail is flatter, and its head is rounder. Its quality smooth fur once led to mass hunting and trading of smooth otters.

There is a strong contrast between the character and appearance of smooth otters. They live in groups and are quite aggressive. Smooth otters have an incredible sense of territory and do not flinch when chasing away larger predators out of their habitats. In Singapore, fighting among otter’s families has constantly appeared in the news.

Perform unique ritual

Smooth otter is a very greedy animal. They often give priority to the quantity of food rather than the satiety. Every time it catch a fish, it usually only take one or two bites and put them aside, and then continue to catch more. These fish are placed neatly by the river. The smooth otter will stand up, put his hands together and close his eyes, as if he were praying.

Unpredictable exotic pet

The smooth otter is not only cute, but also have very thick and soft fur, which is easy to touch. In Japan, Indonesia, Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries, smooth otter becomes a popular exotic pet. Despite being so friendly and docile, the smooth otter still retains its wildness. Its sharp teeth and strong sense of territory provided smooth otters the possibility of attacking people with its high attacking power.

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In addition, the artificial breeding of otters is very difficult. The drastic increases of market demand for smooth otters as pets, leading to a large number of poaching and smuggling of wild smooth otters in Southeast Asian countries.

Be gradually appreciated

In 2015, the smooth otter was categorized as vulnerable species by the IUCN red list. Hunting by human and environmental destruction, especially water pollution, have a great impact on the survival of smooth otters.

Written by Zhang Yuming (INTI International University)