Cape Clawless Otter


The Cape Clawless Otter measures 1,3 m in length and weighs about 13 kg. Except for the belly, throat, cheeks and upper lip, which are all white, the rest of the body is covered with dense dark brown fur. Almost no webbing between the toes of the front feet, but hind feet are webbed for half their length. There are five clawless digits on each foot. They have thick but shortish tails.

Cape Clawless Otter cavorting in the Kariega River


Diets mainly on crabs, but will also take fish, frogs, lobsters, birds, insects, reptiles, molluscs and small mammals.


Breeds throughout the year, and one to three young are born per litter, after a gestation period of 60-65 days.

Social Behaviour

Since otters are intelligent and playful by nature, they are charming to watch. Extremely elusive in the wilds, and are usually solitary. Females are often accompanied by their offspring, thus co-existing in groups of up to eight. Males play no part in rearing the young and seldom associate with females.


Inhabits both fresh water sources as well as the sea, but in the latter case appears to require fresh water to wash the salt from its fur.

Where they are found

The Cape clawless otter has an easterly distribution along the coastline and drainage systems of the higher rainfall regions of South Africa including the Kariega River running through Sibuya Game Reserve, but is nowhere common. Absent from the arid western parts of the country. Coastal density is estimated at one per two km, and along rivers one per three to ten km.


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