IUCN status: Near Threatened
alias: Cameroon white-cheeked otter, Zaire clawless otter, small-toothed clawless otter
predators: leopards and other large carnivores
threats: habitat loss, hunting, overfishing, pet trade
size: 110-150 cm (body 79-95 cm, tail 50-56 cm)
weight: 12-17 kg
Nearly as large as the Cape clawless otter but definitely lighter and more slender, the Congo clawless otter was thought to be a subspecies of the former Cape clawless otter until recently. Little is known about this otter, which is the least studied of the African species. Its reduced whiskers, absent webbing, tiny claws and generalised dental morphology together with sporadic observations show that this species is mainly terrestrial, exploring marshes and forests. It uses its fingers to dig up molluscs, crabs, earthworms and frogs from the muddy banks. The Congo clawless otter’s head and neck is frosted with a brilliant white, that make its characteristic black markings under the eyes even more evident. Solitary, enigmatic and elusive, the Congo clawless otter still has many mysteries to reveal!