This week we received a telephone call from a family who wanted us to provide a new home for their pet, a 4-month-old male small-clawed otter (Amblonyx cinereus). They told that they had purchased him via an add on Facebook from a person in Trang Province, Southern Thailand. At only two weeks old he was sold as a pet, he had not even opened his eyes. Taken away from his mother who was likely kept at an otter farm. Did the owners tire of his constant screams? His biting? His strong smell? Or did they really care for his welfare…? Either way Lucky as they had called, is now one Lucky otter. He arrived at WFFT the day before yesterday.
Oriental small-clawed otters are currently listed as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. However, the remaining population is hard to estimate. Throughout South Asia, where they are found, the main threat to its continued survival is the destruction of its fresh water habitat, pollution, and the threat posed by poaching, for the fur trade and pet trade. Sadly, an increase in keeping these animals as pets has been seen throughout Thailand. We are hearing reports of otters ‘farms’ where many are being specifically bred for the pet trade.
After an initial health check Lucky seems in good health. He had been fed only goats milk, so it will take us some time to adjust his diet to replicate what he would have in the wild, he has eaten a small amount of fresh water fish so far. Due to his age and history the WFFT Vet Team will have to give him some extra special care and attention until he is ready to meet some new friends – other otters.
The carry cage you see in the photographs is where he was kept almost all day, until his owners brought him out to play, as he began to bite he was more frequently confined to the small cage. To keep him entertained and make him a little happier the WFFT Enrichment Team set up a special new enclosure for him in the WFFT Wildlife Hospital. We filmed this in a time-lapse video which you can see on https://www.facebook.com/wildlifevolunteerthailand/.
We will keep you updated on his progress. Look out for some images of him loving his new home very soon. Keep Wildlife Wild and Not as Pets!!! Please help us urge Facebook to stop allowing the illegal sale of wildlife.