Oriental small-clawed otters are the smallest otter species. They have dark brown fur across their backs and cream fur along their fronts and faces. Their paws are not fully webbed, like most otters, making them more dextrous.
Oriental small-clawed otters live in family groups of up to 12 individuals and have a wide range of communication methods including grooming and scent. They also have a number of different vocalisations including an alarm call and at least 12 others.
Male and female Oriental small-clawed otters form long term pairings and will both build the nest and collect food for the offspring. Usually one or two offspring are born per litter, but litters of up to six are known. They are undeveloped at birth and blind until they are 40 days old. They begin venturing out of the den at 10 weeks and start swimming at three months.
The most important part of the Oriental small-clawed otter diet is crabs, followed by fish. Insects, snails and other shellfish are also consumed in smaller amounts. They use their agile paws to capture and kill their prey.
Oriental small-clawed otters are classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN. Their main threats are habitat destruction (wetlands are converted for human use), over-fishing of their prey by humans and pollution. Pollution causes two problems. Firstly, it reduces the amount of prey (as fish cannot survive in polluted water). Secondly, toxins build up in prey items and transfer to the otters when eaten, seriously harms the health of the otter.