- Monday, 17 December 2012 15:25
As the weather turns colder, the otters at the zoo are keeping warm this Christmas!
Our Asian short-clawed otters, Aonyx cinerea, tend to stay indoors during the winter, in their heated enclosure. However, like all mammals, their fur reacts to the cold, trapping warm air close to their skin. Otters also have two layers of fur, one for insulation and one to keep the water out. This layer of fur makes them look cuddly, but they have sharp teeth and claws, which equip them for hunting fish, and even snakes and rats. At the zoo they are fed with razorfish and sprats.
The Asian short-clawed otter is a vulnerable species found in south Asia. They are a protected species, but are in decline due to habitat destruction and pollution. Large-scale clearance of forests in the Far East has led to increased soil run-off, clogging the streams and waterways. This, and other pollution resulting from rapidly expanding towns and cities, has decreased the availability of fish. To conserve the otters, areas of wetland and swamp are being conserved in the wild, and laws now ban any killing of otters or trading of otter pelts. Zoos are also helping as a safeguard through an international conservation breeding programme.
At Flamingo Land we have two young female otters, that will one day be partnered with males to form a partnership for life.