Wednesday, May 31, 2017 written and photographed by Mika Miller

When walking through our Expedition: Asia gallery you may have heard a squeaking sound, almost like a squirrel. If you listen carefully, and follow the noise, you’ll find that it’s our Asian small-clawed otters making all the ruckus.

The Asian small-clawed otters are the smallest of the otter species, weighing less than ten pounds and measuring only two feet, and half of that is their tail! Despite their small size, Asian small-clawed otters are a very vocal species. They have a vocabulary of at least 12 different vocalizations used for everything from contact and greeting to threat and alarm calls.

These otters also use scent marking for communication. They have a scent gland at the base of their tail that emits an intense musky smell that communicates information such as identity, sex, and time between visits. It’s like an otter business card or social media profile. This information helps them finds mates and distinguish their territory.

Next time you visit, listen closely to hear the big voices of these little otters.

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