The genus Aonyx is a monophyletic grouping, though species and lower level classifications are not fully agreed upon. Aonyx currently includes three species of otter: Aonyx capensis, Aonyx cinereus, and Aonyx capensis congica. Synonyms for the genus name are Amblonyx, Anahyster, Leptonyx, Micraonyx, and Paraonyx. A. cinereus has been considered to be in a separate Amblonyx genus. The specific epithet for A. cinereus was previously ‘cinerea.’ However, ‘Aonyx’ is a masculine genus name, so the species name was modified to be masculine as well. A. congicus has also been previously placed in its own genus Paraonyx. A. congicus has also been thought of as a subspecies of A. capensis, and this continues to be debated. Those who consider them different species split them based upon tooth size and skin differences. (Jacques, et al., 2021a; Larivière, 2001a; Larivière, 2001b; Larivière, 2003; Wilson and Reeder, 2005)
Little is known about reproduction in A. cinereus), individuals are monogamous with both parents contributing to raising offspring. Older siblings may help raise offspring in both captive and wild populations. (Larivière, 2003). In one species (
Information regarding parental investment is limited due to lack of research on wild populations. In captivity, males spend more time maintaining a nest while the females spend more time grooming and training the young. (Larivière, 2003)
Individuals are not migratory and are mostly solitary. Unrelated groups may forage together, and family groups may travel together. Species in (Jacques, et al., 2021a; Jacques, et al., 2021b; Larivière, 2001a; Larivière, 2001b; Larivière, 2003; Wright, et al., 2021)are either nocturnal or crepuscular. Hunting is in the water, and most other activities, such as resting and grooming, occur on land. Grooming is typically by rolling or rubbing against an object. Play behavior in young is common. This can involve play-fighting, romping, sliding, or manipulating inanimate objects.
Most mortality is inflicted by humans with various traps, poisoned bait, or fish nets. Predators for African populations include crocodiles, leopards, pythons, and large raptors. (Larivière, 2001a; Larivière, 2001b)
The origin of ‘Aonyx’ is from Greek ‘a’ meaning “without” and ‘onyx’ meaning “claw” or “nail.” The synonym ‘Amblonyx’ is from Greek ‘ambl’ meaning “blunt” and ‘onyx’ meaning “claw” or “nail.” (Larivière, 2001b; Larivière, 2003)
Katie Badwey (author), Colorado State University, Tanya Dewey (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.
living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.
uses sound to communicate
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal that mainly eats meat
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
helpers provide assistance in raising young that are not their own
active at dawn and dusk
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
parental care is carried out by females
A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
mainly lives in water that is not salty.
referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
Having one mate at a time.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
active during the night
found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.
rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.
communicates by producing scents from special gland(s) and placing them on a surface whether others can smell or taste them
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
a wetland area that may be permanently or intermittently covered in water, often dominated by woody vegetation.
uses touch to communicate
Living on the ground.
A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.
A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.
A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.
reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.
breeding takes place throughout the year
Jacques, H., J. Reed-Smith, L. Davenport, M. Somers. 2021. "Congo Clawless Otter" (On-line). IUCN Red List. Accessed October 20, 2021 at https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/1794/164576337.
Jacques, H., J. Reed-Smith, M. Somers. 2021. "African Clawless Otter" (On-line). IUCN Red List. Accessed October 20, 2021 at https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/1793/164575819.
Larivière, S. 2003. Amblonyx cinereus. Mammalian Species, 720: 1-5. Accessed November 01, 2021 at https://academic.oup.com/mspecies/article/doi/10.1644/0.720.1/2600498.
Larivière, S. 2001. Aonyx capensis. Mammalian Species, 671: 1-6. Accessed October 20, 2021 at https://doi.org/10.1644/1545-1410(2001)671%3C0001:AC%3E2.0.CO;2.
Larivière, S. 2001. Aonyx congicus. Mammalian Species, 650: 1-3. Accessed October 20, 2021 at https://doi.org/10.1644/1545-1410(2001)650%3C0001:AC%3E2.0.CO;2.
Wilson, D., D. Reeder. 2005. Mammal Species of the World. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press. Accessed October 20, 2021 at https://www.departments.bucknell.edu/biology/resources/msw3/browse.asp?s=y&id=14001077.
Wright, L., P. de Silva, B. Chan, I. Reza Lubis, S. Basak. 2021. "Asian Small-clawed Otter" (On-line). IUCN Red List. Accessed October 20, 2021 at https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/44166/164580923.