Lutra sumatrana, Hairy-nosed Otter

Lutra sumatrana

 Hairy-nosed Otter

The Hairy-nLutra sumatrana, Hairy-nosed Otterosed Otter (Lutra sumatrana) is one of the rarest otter species on earth, and was thought to be extinct in 1998 as there had been no sightings for many years, but a tiny number of populations have been rediscovered since then.

At present, it is believed to live mainly in two nature reserves in Vietnam, Toa Daeng peat swamp forest in southern Thailand, and in Sumatra, the place for which it was named. It was rediscovered in 2005. It was also rediscovered in Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodia. Even from these places, they are known from a tiny number of sightings and some roadkill, and from skins.

In June 2008, the Wildlife Alliance-led Wildlife Rapid Rescue Team received a donated Hairy-nosed Otter originating near the Tonle Sap in Cambodia. Working with Conservation International, they established a safe home for the rescued otter at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center, where they hope it will become part of a future captive breeding program.

The most recent record of the species was on September 2008 in U Minh Ha National Park in southern Vietnam when researchers said they have found two hairy-nosed otters.


Weight: 11 to 13 pounds (5.0 to 5.9 kg)

Head-body length: 20 to 33 inches (51 to 84 cm)

Tail length: 14 to 20 inches (36 to 51 cm)[9]


The hairy-nosed Otter is the least known of the Asian otters, and is also the most difficult to identify in the field. The hairy-nosed Otter gets its name from the hairs on the end of its rhinarium (moist part of its nose); in most other respects it is similar to Eurasian Otter, Lutra lutra. Hairy-nosed Otter is entirely brown, except for lips, chin and upper throat, which are whitish. Fur is rather rough but short. The tail is flattened and oval in cross section. Feet are fully webbed between the digits. Claws are prominent. The penis of the adult male is not visible externally. The contact call between otters is a single-syllabic chirp; adult females call to cubs with a staccato chatter. Large otters are very similar and can be positively distinguished only by close inspection of the nose and fur, or the skull. In this species, skull is flatter than that of Smooth Otter, Lutrogale perspicillataI and has smaller teeth.[10]

Ecology and habitat

The hairy-nosed otter can be found in coastal areas and on larger inland rivers, solitary or in groups of up to four. Diet includes fish and crustaceans. Pairing of male and female may be limited to the breeding period.

Distribution and status

South East Asia: Myanmar, South Thailand, Cambodia, South Vietnam and Peninsular Malaysia. Include Sumatra and Borneo. Extremely few individuals survive in Vietnam, southern Thailand, Sumatra and Cambodia, being menaced by poaching.


The Hairy-nosed Otter is the rarest otter in Asia, most likely verging on extinction in the northern parts of its range and of uncertain status elsewhere. There are only a few remaining viable populations, widely scattered in region. Species is threatened by loss of lowland wetland habitats, hunting for fur and meat, and accidental killing during fishing.