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Melbourne Zoo

Asian Small-clawed Otter

Asian Small-clawed Otters are the smallest of the 13 species of otter in the world. With an average lifespan in the wild of up to 10 years, Asian Small-clawed Otters can live happily and healthily up to 20 years in captivity. 

Our two Asian Small-clawed Otters, Paula and Oscar, have lived together since 2012. They haven't bred but have lived happily together since 2011.

Because Oscar and Paula are playful and active, they can be hard to spot sometimes, but make sure you pop past their home more than once if you miss them at first visit, as they do take naps throughout the day in between their antics. They are likely to be most active in the afternoon, as they often sleep on display between 9:30 and around 11:00.  Also keep an eye out for their enrichment sessions, as they receive 2 different forms every day, including hidden feeds in logs and foliage. 


Oscar is our male otter, and 19 years old and was born in Auckland. He came to Melbourne Zoo in 2007, and if you look closely he can be identified from Paula by his slightly darker sleek coat, and boldness.  He enjoys interacting with keepers and is always eager to see what food treats they have. As an aging animal, Oscar has some arthritis so keepers have a special training area where he can receive medication via injection whilst participating in a fun training session. 


Paula our female is 7 years old and was born in Frankfurt, arriving at Melbourne Zoo in 2011. Inseparable from Oscar, Paula is the more confident of the pair, which is normal as the female is usually the dominant individual in a pair of otters. She likes to take her food to the water to wash it before she eats and spends a lot of her time preparing their nest. 


A l-otter fun and love among Melbourne Zoo's adoreable duo

Which Melbourne Zoo residents have tiny webbed claws, beady eyes, long white whiskers and are arguably the most otter-ly adorable species in the animal kingdom?

31 May 2019
Tarwin receiving treatment

Arthritic Animals

It’s not only people feeling the painful pangs of arthritis in this wintry weather – some animals at Melbourne Zoo also need treatment to keep them comfortable.

9 August 2017
  • Otters use their sensitive paws and whiskers to forage for food and can eat a third of their body weight in a day.
  • They feed on crabs, fish, yabbies, insects, lizards, frogs and small mammals such as mice.
  • They can close their nostrils and ears under water and have thick waterproof fur.