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Congolese clawless otter

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Latin name: Paraonyx (= Aonyx) congicus (= congica - this term is now considered incorrect and not used).

Some researchers stand out: Cameroon Clawless Otter (Cameroon Clawless Otter) in the rank of species (Paraonyx microdon), according to others it should be considered a subspecies of the Congolese clawless otter (Paraonyx congicus microdon), while others believe that there are reasons to single out the Cameroon clawless otter even in the rank no, therefore, they consider this name as a synonym for the Congolese clawless otter, common in Cameroon and Nigeria.

Congolese clawless otters are found only on the African continent: from southeastern Nigeria and Gabon to Uganda and Burundi in central Africa.

Outwardly, the Congolese otter is similar to another clawless otter (Aonyx capensis), although it is a larger, slimmer and powerfully folded otter. U conNormally developed claws on all paws of the Goles otter are absent, and only rudimentary claws on 2, 3, and 4 fingers are only distinguishable. On the front paws between the fingers - there are no membranes. The skull is massive, the largest length of the skull is 143.5 mm. Small sharp teeth, practically not specialized and adapted for eating meat. The body is covered with short and thin fur

Color: These otters have a dark, chestnut brown coat with some silver glaze on the head and neck, as opposed to white breasts, nose and ears. A distinctive black patch is located between the eyes and nostrils. Youth in their coloring resembles adults, with the exception that there is no silver glaze on the fur.

The body length with the head is 60-100 cm, the tail is 40-59 cm - which is almost half the body length.

Weight: 15-25 kg, on average - 20 kg, maximum is possible - up to 30 kg.

Life expectancy: Probably an average of 10-15 years.

Voice: Congolese clawless otters communicate among themselves making tweets and screeching during the game, as well as purring sounds, expressing their mutual affection. Often growl, roar or emit a screaming howl, than express their displeasure or fear.

Habitat: The Congolese clawless otter lives in the mountains, settles near the rivers and mountain streams. She often lives in small marshy ponds in low-lying tropical rain forests.

Enemies: Famous predators: crocodiles, pythons, eagles, leopards.

The main threat: hunting by humans and the reduction and degradation of its habitats (deforestation, poisoning, siltation and desiccation of wetlands, destruction of coastal vegetation). The survival of otters, as well as the conservation of wildlife in Africa, is strongly influenced by the growth rate of the human population, leading to increased competition between humans and wildlife.

The Congolese clawless otter feeds on small vertebrates, bird eggs, frogs, crabs, mollusks, fish, earthworms and insects. Rarely, lizards and near-water birds serve as their prey.

Clawless otters have very sensitive forepaws. All morphological adaptations of the Congolese otter are aimed at improving dexterity and tactile sensitivity for orientation and production of food in the polluted waters of the lower Congo basin.

Congolese clawless otters are mostly nocturnal, but were observed in quiet secluded marshy places and during the daytime. During the day, they usually sleep in natural hollows on the banks of rivers.

Due to their amphibian (near-water) lifestyle, these otters are both excellent swimmers and skilled researchers on coastal habitats. The short and sparse fur, poorly marked side whiskers and the absence of membranes on the forepaws suggest that the Congolese otter spends more time on land than other clawless otters.

Non-tarry otters use sound alarms and olfactory for contacts between themselves. They use strong olfactory tags for territorial contacts. Their musky secret, along with sticky excrement, can even attach to vertical surfaces, which is done in order to mark the boundaries of their territory. The visual aspects of communication, including body language: poses and gestures, are for the most part not described. Tactile communication is undoubtedly of some importance in contacts, especially in families between a mother and her babies.

Social structure: The Congolese clawless otter leads a solitary lifestyle, and only in the mating season they do not meet in pairs for long, and after mating they return to their usual lonely way of life. The area of ​​an individual section of each otter is approximately four to six square kilometers (up to a maximum of 12 km2), which often partially overlap with three or more sections of other adult males. An individual otter maintains the inviolability of the borders of its territory. Otters mark the boundaries of their territory with odor and visual marks, and ardently patrol and protect it.

Single observations show that Congolese clawless otters were observed as small family groups. However, apparently, these associations are temporary and transitional, associated with the beginning of the period of resettlement and independence by young family members.

Reproduction: Almost nothing is known about the reproduction of the otter. They remain mysterious, due to their elusive nature and remote and inaccessible to researchers habitats in most of their range. Despite the paucity of information regarding the development and reproduction of clawless otters, we can reasonably conclude that they are similar in all representatives of the genus Aonyx.

So, the length of the estrus period (the female’s readiness for mating) is about 3 days, and if the reproductive cycle has not occurred during this conception period, it repeats with a frequency of between 22.4 and 30 days. Since the gestation period is about two months, they can produce two offspring per year.

Cubs are born helpless and blind, their eyes do not open until they reach 40 days of age. The main concern for the upbringing and protection of offspring lies with the mother: she drinks milk, cleanses their fur during their period of dependence, protects them from enemies. Young people can swim already at the age of 9 weeks, and begins to consume solid meat food after reaching 80 days of age. It is not known for certain whether males take part in the upbringing of offspring.

Breeding season / season: Although it is not known exactly, breeding occurs all year or in a specific season, but the peak of birth occurs in the dry season.

Puberty: Females and males reach puberty at the age of 1 year.

Pregnancy: Pregnancy lasts 2 months (60 - 64 days).

Offspring: in litter 1-6, on average 2-3 cubs.

The otter is caught by the local population because of valuable fur. However, the quality of their fur is not as high as that of other species of otters. Pygmies in northeastern Zaire use the skin of clawless otters to make hats. In addition, otters are caught because of meat, and also killed because they are considered food competitors of the local population, especially in rural areas, where fishing is an important source of not only profit but also protein food.

For humans, an otter is usually not dangerous, however, if provoked, clawless otters can bite off fingers on a person’s hands, which is documented. They also attacked and drowned dogs that came too close to them.

If clawless otters are captured in nature at a young age, then they become excellent domestic, reasonably intelligent, pupils, and there have been cases when they were trained by Malay fishermen to fish.

The Congolese clawless otter is one of the endangered species. Guard Status: IUCN Red List. The reason for the decline in the population is hunting and the reduction of habitat.

Previously, up to four subspecies were distinguished: Parhonyx (= Aonyx) congicus. congicus. P .c. microdon, P. c. philippsi, and P .c. poensis.

According to other researchers, two subspecies were distinguished:

Cameroonian Clawless Otter - P. congica microdon (synonym: Paraonyx microdon) - lives in Nigeria and Cameroon and

Philips Clawless Otter - P. congica phillippsi (synonym: Paraonyx philippsi), which are later combined into a single subspecies P. congica congica.

At present, it is customary to consider the species of the Congolese clawless otter Parhonyx (= Aonyx) congicus monotypic, i.e. subspecies-free (Wozencraft 1993).

Congolese Clawless Otter

The Congolese clawless otter - Aonyx congicus - lives in mountainous areas, settles near rivers and streams, inhabits swampy lowlands in rain forests from southeastern Nigeria and Gabon to Uganda and Burundi in central Africa.

Outwardly, the Congolese otter is similar to another clawless otter (Aonyx capensis). The length of the body with the head is 60-100 cm, tail 40-71 cm, weight 13-34 kg. In the Congolese otter, rudimentary claws on all paws are distinguishable, on the forefoot there are no membranes. Small sharp teeth, adapted for eating meat. The short and sparse fur, poorly marked side whiskers and the absence of membranes on the forepaws suggest that the Congolese otter spends more time on land than other clawless otters.

The Congolese clawless otter feeds on small vertebrates, eggs, and frogs.

Almost nothing is known about the reproduction of the otter. It can be assumed that her life cycle is similar to the rest of the clawless otters. Pregnancy lasts 2 months, in the litter 2-3 cubs. Females and males reach puberty at the age of 1 year.

The Congolese clawless otter is one of the endangered species. The reason for the decline in the population is hunting and the reduction of habitat.

The following subspecies are known:

A. congica congica
Cameroonian Clawless Otter - A. congica microdon (synonym: Paraonyx microdon) - lives in Nigeria and Cameroon
Philips Clawless Otter - A. congica phillippsi (synonym: Paraonyx philippsi).

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