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Scientific name: Aonyx capensis
Common name: Cape clawless otter
Taxonomy
Phyulm Sub Phylum Class Sub Class Order Sub Order Family Sub Family Genus Species
Chordata Vertebrata Mammalia Theriiformes Carnivora Caniformia Mustelidae Lutrinae Aonyx Aonyx capensis

       

Short Description:

African Clawless Otters have thick, smooth fur with an almost silky underbelly. Chestnut in color, they are characterized by white facial markings that extend downward towards their throat and chest area. Paws are partially webbed with five fingers, and no opposable thumbs. All lack claws except for digits 2, 3, and 4 of the hind feet. Their large skull is broad and flat, with relatively small orbits and a short rostrum. Molars are large and flat, used for crushing of prey. Adults are 4-5' in length including tail, weighing 30-70lbs.

Identification
features:
 
Size: 1.5m
Behaviour:

Though mostly solitary animals, African clawless otters will live in neighboring territories of family groups of up to 5 individuals. Each still having their own range within that territory, they mostly keep to themselves unless seeking a mate. Territories are marked using a pair of anal glands which secrete a particular scent. Each otter is very territorial over its particular range.

Awkward on land but acrobats in the water, these animals spend their days swimming and catching food. They return to underground burrows for safety, cooling or a nice rub down using grasses and leaves. Mainly aquatic creatures, their tails are used for locomotion and propel them through the water. They are also used for balance when walking or sitting upright.

Diet:

The diet of Aonyx capensis primarily includes water dwelling animals such as crabs, fish, frogs, and worms. They dive after prey to catch it, then swim to shore again where they eat. Their hands come in handy as searching devices and are great tools for digging on the muddy bottoms of ponds and rivers, picking up rocks and looking under logs. Extremely sensitive whiskers (vibrissae) are used as sensors in the water to pick up the movements of potential prey.

Distribution: Cape Town to Sodwana Bay
Depth:  
Habitat: African Clawless Otters can be found anywhere from open coastal plains, to semiarid regions, to densely forested areas. Surviving mostly in southern Africa, the otters live in areas surrounding permanent bodies of water, usually surrounded by some form of foliage. Logs, branches, and loose foliage greatly appeal to the otter as this provides shelter, shade and great rolling opportunities. Slow and rather clumsy on land, they build burrows in banks near water, allowing for easier food access and a quick escape from predators. In the False Bay area of the Cape Peninsula they have been observed scavenging along beaches and rocks and hunting in shallow surf for mullet. They are mainly nocturnal in urban areas and lie up during the day in quiet bushy areas.
Reference:
  •  Two Oceans
    (A guide to the marine life of Southern Africa
    )
    GM Branch;CL Griffiths;ML Branch;LE Beckley
  • A field guide to the Marine Animals of the Cape Peninsula
    Georgina Jones
  • Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    www.wikipedia.org/ 
Similar Species:
  • None on database

Database Statistics
(Click on the links for more information)
Photographer Date City Area Dive site Temp Size Depth Camera Photo Video
 
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eastern cape scuba diving