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Palawan Asian small clawed otters

Updated on June 7, 2015

Baby otter pup nursing

Baby otter pup about 2 weeks old.
Baby otter pup about 2 weeks old.

Rescued Asian small clawed otters in Palawan

We live in Palawan, in the Philippines, one of the most biodiverse islands in the world. Last year one of the villagers brought me a wriggling sack with high pitched squeeks coming from it! When I opened it up, there were 3 furry little creatures inside with their eyes and ears still shut like puppies. I immediately knew they were otters, since I had seen photos of them before. The story is that villagers were clearing land near the mangroves and the otter mother was killed accidentally. They then heard these dolphin like high pitched squeals and found the 3 week old pups. Otter babies are called pups.

I had absolutely no idea what to do with them or what to feed them. We went online and found several otter oganizations. We used skype to call Scotland which had a phone listed. While our friend was on the phone I went online and searched Google for how to feed baby otters. I happened to have some low lactose puppy/kitten milk on hand from previously rescuing a civet and a pangolin, so I gave them this formula and later had to add cream and probiotics to digest the cream. Otter moms have 6% higher fat content than cows milk! They needed to be nursed for 2 1/2 months with little miniature puppy bottles with small nipples and they had to be fed every 2 hours! There were many sleepless nights for me and my assistant and we took turns with the graveyard shifts. It is not easy to raise these pups. We ran out of puppy milk and couldn't find anymore in the entire town; we had to resort to non lactose human milk. In three days their fur began falling out! It was around the time of weaning so the otter organizations suggested giving them whole foods like small fish.

In the wild their diet are crabs, mud skipper fish, frogs, small lizards and mollusks. They are now 6 months old and eat 3 kilos of crabs and fish per day...that's over 6 pounds!!

"Lady Blue" a song by Tony Pollard

Lady Blue
Lady Blue

This artist will donate 80% of all funds to feeding the otters and for their caretakers as well. Please buy this song to help us out. It's a good song too!

 

Two otters and a puppy

Otter pups over the months - How fast they grow.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Otter pups about 3 weeks old. The Asian small clawed otter, are very touchy feely;  always reaching out to each other for reassurance.They took to the puppy/kitten bottle right away; it made it easier on us to feed them.They were so helpless; I could not turn them away when I had the ability to help them.Otter pups have a peculiar smell. Their poo is called spraint. Yup, just like it sounds, they spray pool and pee at the time.Always touching. Their paws are soft like a baby. Three brothers. At over a month their eyes began to open just a slit. These otters mate for life.Cuddly, cuddly otter pups.Our daughter is learning to love earths creatures great and small.Eyes open! Are you my mommy?Omar and Owen. "Shhhhh quiet Owen!" says Omar. We lost Omar this year. They break your heart these otters.Omar just 3 months old.We let the otters roam. They are bonded to family and do not run away.Hey! What was that? Mommy otter has two liters a year and the subsequent siblings raise and train each other.Gimme dat. Otters are very clever and work together as a family team. They are never long without one of the parents or siblings.Sleek Asc otter at 5 months old. They emit one sharp high pitched sound that works as a locator and reassurance to each other I've observed.At almost 6 months, their fur isn't totally waterproof yet.The least water loving of all otters; still they swim like dancers in the water. They live mainly on shores of mangroves or rivers.Fish is not their primary diet. They eat mainly crabs, mollusks, snail, frogs and mud skipper fish.We take the otters to the nearby mangroves when we can so they can learn to forage on their own.Our assistant Jhun and fellow nanny.Otters following us to the truck from the mangroves. Bonded to us as their family, they don't run away.The local fishermen children had never seen the otters up close before. I teach them about the otters whenever I can.The pups would not follow me to the deep. These otters like to feel the ground, except perhaps when they play together in the water.Me with the otters on one of our jaunts out.Otters are very curious and clever and work in family teams. The family does not break up until one of the parents dies.We have a native pumpboat to take the otters to various mangroves. This was their first time in the boat. We usually take the truck to another place.I caught a crab and it was this big!The otters can now hold their breath under water for 3 minutes.
Otter pups about 3 weeks old. The Asian small clawed otter, are very touchy feely;  always reaching out to each other for reassurance.
Otter pups about 3 weeks old. The Asian small clawed otter, are very touchy feely; always reaching out to each other for reassurance.
They took to the puppy/kitten bottle right away; it made it easier on us to feed them.
They took to the puppy/kitten bottle right away; it made it easier on us to feed them.
They were so helpless; I could not turn them away when I had the ability to help them.
They were so helpless; I could not turn them away when I had the ability to help them.
Otter pups have a peculiar smell. Their poo is called spraint. Yup, just like it sounds, they spray pool and pee at the time.
Otter pups have a peculiar smell. Their poo is called spraint. Yup, just like it sounds, they spray pool and pee at the time.
Always touching. Their paws are soft like a baby. Three brothers. At over a month their eyes began to open just a slit. These otters mate for life.
Always touching. Their paws are soft like a baby. Three brothers. At over a month their eyes began to open just a slit. These otters mate for life.
Cuddly, cuddly otter pups.
Cuddly, cuddly otter pups.
Our daughter is learning to love earths creatures great and small.
Our daughter is learning to love earths creatures great and small.
Eyes open! Are you my mommy?
Eyes open! Are you my mommy?
Omar and Owen. "Shhhhh quiet Owen!" says Omar. We lost Omar this year. They break your heart these otters.
Omar and Owen. "Shhhhh quiet Owen!" says Omar. We lost Omar this year. They break your heart these otters.
Omar just 3 months old.
Omar just 3 months old.
We let the otters roam. They are bonded to family and do not run away.
We let the otters roam. They are bonded to family and do not run away.
Hey! What was that? Mommy otter has two liters a year and the subsequent siblings raise and train each other.
Hey! What was that? Mommy otter has two liters a year and the subsequent siblings raise and train each other.
Gimme dat. Otters are very clever and work together as a family team. They are never long without one of the parents or siblings.
Gimme dat. Otters are very clever and work together as a family team. They are never long without one of the parents or siblings.
Sleek Asc otter at 5 months old. They emit one sharp high pitched sound that works as a locator and reassurance to each other I've observed.
Sleek Asc otter at 5 months old. They emit one sharp high pitched sound that works as a locator and reassurance to each other I've observed.
At almost 6 months, their fur isn't totally waterproof yet.
At almost 6 months, their fur isn't totally waterproof yet.
The least water loving of all otters; still they swim like dancers in the water. They live mainly on shores of mangroves or rivers.
The least water loving of all otters; still they swim like dancers in the water. They live mainly on shores of mangroves or rivers.
Fish is not their primary diet. They eat mainly crabs, mollusks, snail, frogs and mud skipper fish.
Fish is not their primary diet. They eat mainly crabs, mollusks, snail, frogs and mud skipper fish.
We take the otters to the nearby mangroves when we can so they can learn to forage on their own.
We take the otters to the nearby mangroves when we can so they can learn to forage on their own.
Our assistant Jhun and fellow nanny.
Our assistant Jhun and fellow nanny.
Otters following us to the truck from the mangroves. Bonded to us as their family, they don't run away.
Otters following us to the truck from the mangroves. Bonded to us as their family, they don't run away.
The local fishermen children had never seen the otters up close before. I teach them about the otters whenever I can.
The local fishermen children had never seen the otters up close before. I teach them about the otters whenever I can.
The pups would not follow me to the deep. These otters like to feel the ground, except perhaps when they play together in the water.
The pups would not follow me to the deep. These otters like to feel the ground, except perhaps when they play together in the water.
Me with the otters on one of our jaunts out.
Me with the otters on one of our jaunts out.
Otters are very curious and clever and work in family teams. The family does not break up until one of the parents dies.
Otters are very curious and clever and work in family teams. The family does not break up until one of the parents dies.
We have a native pumpboat to take the otters to various mangroves. This was their first time in the boat. We usually take the truck to another place.
We have a native pumpboat to take the otters to various mangroves. This was their first time in the boat. We usually take the truck to another place.
I caught a crab and it was this big!
I caught a crab and it was this big!
The otters can now hold their breath under water for 3 minutes.
The otters can now hold their breath under water for 3 minutes.

Too sweet, this otter pup

Nothing is cuter than an otter pup.
Nothing is cuter than an otter pup.

Learning about otters in Palawan

The hard way.

It's been hard learning to to raise and nurture the otters. But I wouldn't trade a day of it. They will be fully grown at 15 months and we and the otter organizations guiding us will apprise their ability to be released. I don't look forward to that day because of all the perils out there. Habitat loss as when their mom was killed clearing in the shores of the mangroves. Some are hunted for meat or their fur, even as pets to the illegal wildlife trade.

Asian small clawed otters are the smallest otters in the world and they are monogamous. The female has two litters of pups per year and the subsequent siblings raise the next generation from one to six per litter! They all stay together as a family unit and are always touching and calling to each other. The only time the family breaks up is when one of the parents dies or is killed, as was the case with our otter pups. They are very tactile. I haven't ever seen them groom each other but they have soft paws like a baby and are always reaching out and touching each other even while they sleep. Since I am the parent I have to spend many hours in their enclosure with them, just letting them hang out on me for reassurance and comfort.

Their main diet is crabs, other invertebrates, snails, frogs and they love mud skippers. To add to that the will eat small lizards and mice. It's a real challenge to find the right foods for them nearby and it changes with the season.

Please educate those you meet where otters live to teach them respect for these very family bonded animals. They are an environmental species which means that if they start to disappear naturally without human interaction, the environment is in trouble.

Otters swimming in a mangrove cover

Otters Versus Snake

An Otter Story

Ring of Bright Water (1969)
Ring of Bright Water (1969)

A very endearing video with a sad but hopeful end.

 

An Otterly Adorable Video will make your day

Otters underwater

Otterly cute.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Nothing cuter than a baby otter. Nothing stinkier either! You have to toilet them like a kitter or dog puppy, as they don't eliminate on their own.Uhhh mom, I peed on you again.Our daughter has taken care of several types of wildlife orphans.Out on their first foray to the nearby mangrove beach to learn to fend for themselves.Otter was scared by a smallish wave and scooted back to shore.
Nothing cuter than a baby otter. Nothing stinkier either! You have to toilet them like a kitter or dog puppy, as they don't eliminate on their own.
Nothing cuter than a baby otter. Nothing stinkier either! You have to toilet them like a kitter or dog puppy, as they don't eliminate on their own.
Uhhh mom, I peed on you again.
Uhhh mom, I peed on you again.
Our daughter has taken care of several types of wildlife orphans.
Our daughter has taken care of several types of wildlife orphans.
Out on their first foray to the nearby mangrove beach to learn to fend for themselves.
Out on their first foray to the nearby mangrove beach to learn to fend for themselves.
Otter was scared by a smallish wave and scooted back to shore.
Otter was scared by a smallish wave and scooted back to shore.

Did you know Palawan had otters?

Did you know Palawan had otters?

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© 2014 Diana J. Limjoco

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