Singapore's otters, long adored by the city-state's nature lovers, are popping up in unexpected places during the coronavirus lockdown but their antics have angered some and even sparked calls for a cull. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial License. It was probably done out of curiosity towards these fairly new creatures to Singapore and resulted in one otter pup being injured. URL: "Did otters really eat koi worth $80,000? The use of ranks has been discarded as they do not contain any meaningful taxonomic information. Kruuk, H., 2006. There were two reports of otters hit by traffic in 2011, one in Harbour Drive near West Coast Park, and another near Bedok Reservoir 38 Wild Singapore. . , causing many to speak up against animal cruelty. . Local ThreatsIn urban Singapore, one of the threats that the smooth-coated otters face is onshore traffic 37 We compiled 370 sighting records from the literature and verified online reports and submissions between 1998 and 2014. That same year, the Bishan otter family relocated to Marina Bay after chasing out another otter family that had been living there. Seasonal movement, home range, and habitat use by smooth-coated otters in National Chambal Sanctuary, India. Though, being highly adaptable, these otters are able to rely on other food sources such as frogs, insects, crabs, other smaller mammals such as rats, and even snakes 14 font-weight: bold; However, in Singapore, the Smooth‐coated otter Lutrogale perspicillata has made a tremendous rebound after an absence of three decades. Unlike other otter species which might live in big groups of up to 100, smooth-coated otters form small family groups consisting of the mating pair and their pups, if present 19 Dictionnaire classique d'Histoire Naturelle. In winter, it appears that the otters prefer a trimodal activity pattern, with peak activity periods occurring in the early morning, late afternoon, and before midnight, . Smooth-coated otters are semi-aquatic and require both terrestrial and aquatic habitats to survive 12 My Paper, 1 July 2015. Single-headed arrows below internodes denote clades supported by parsimony-informative indels from particular gene segments. Video credits: Fast Snail. At the same time, throat, side of neck, cheeks, and upper lip are visibly paler than the rest of the body as well. URL: h. "Mommy otter fetches fresh fish from Kallang River to feed her baby otters", by Belmont Lay. In addition, it is also the smaller in size than the other two subspecies. Additionally, the team has found that to cope with the lack of available land, the otters are changing their behavior—for instance by living with their parents longer. However, later on, a molecular analysis for L. perspicillata was conducted and the results revealed that its closest relative was Aonyx cinerea (Asian small-clawed otter) rather than P. brasiliensis 53 The amount of space an otter needs depends on how much food is available, but they can maintain a large territory; one animal can travel nine miles a day. However, a second recorded sighting took place more than half a century later, at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in 1990, . {"serverDuration": 610, "requestCorrelationId": "2e99d7d804bb7cb7"}, LSM4254 - Principles of Taxonomy and Systematics: Species Pages on the Biodiversity of Singapore, Lutrogale perspicillata - Smooth-coated Otter, http://wildsingaporenews.blogspot.sg/2013/04/more-sightings-of-wild-otters-in.html#.VkMnGa4rK34, http://www.wildsingapore.com/wildfacts/vertebrates/mammals/perspicillata.htm, http://www.otterspecialistgroup.org/Species/Lutrogale_perspicillata.html, https://portals.iucn.org/library/efiles/html/Otter/Appendix%201f68.html, http://www.otterspecialistgroup.org/Library/TaskForces/OCT/Husbandry_Guidelines_for_Keeping_Smooth-Coated_Otters_in_Captivity_1st_Edition.pdf, http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/sg50-triplets-baby-otters/1794600.html, http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/alleged-otter-baiting/2216036.html, http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/an-otter-delight-at-gardens-by-the-bay, http://mothership.sg/2015/10/otter-family-of-5-enrols-into-st-andrews-junior-college/, http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/did-otters-eat-koi-worth-80000, http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapore/otters-blamed-gory-scene-sentosa, http://mothership.sg/2015/06/curious-bishan-ang-mo-kio-park-triplet-baby-otters-totally-enamoured-with-terrapin-cant-seem-to-leave-it-alone/, mothership.sg/2015/10/video-shows-bishan-ang-mo-kio-park-otters-successfully-integrating-mingling-with-sporeans/, http://mothership.sg/2015/08/mommy-otter-fetches-fresh-fish-from-kallang-river-to-feed-her-baby-otters/, https://www.facebook.com/nparksbuzz/posts/888035821235895, http://www.gbif.org/occurrence/1057425429, http://www.otterjoy.com/otterinfo/lutrogale/perspicillata/perspicillata_classification.html. Pups, usually born blind and helpless, will stay with their parents for up to a year, during which their parents will teach them to swim and forage, among other things 19 Having a water body is essential for feeding and swimming, which otters enjoy immensely, . More recently, a video that went viral showed a man unethically trying to bait the otters with a fishing hook at the Kallang River, , causing many to speak up against animal cruelty. Pup litters usually range from 2-5 and both parents will raise the pups together in a holt usually near the water, . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015. The Bishan family swims in Marina Bay with the iconic Singapore skyline in the background. It also differs from the Asian small-clawed otter (Aoyx cinerea) by having well developed sharp claws on its front feet 11 This species is smaller in overall size and somewhat cuter to most people. Watch the video below to follow the story of the otter family at the Bishan-AMK Park. Food and feeding habits of smooth-coated otters (. ) In the summer season, the otters tend to adopt a bimodal activity pattern which means that there are two active periods in a day - late afternoon and past midnight 17 While they are able to swim in the sea, smooth-coated otters primarily require fresh water 7 Otters likely repopulated Singapore by swimming across the Johor Straits from Malaysia in the 1990s. The hairless nose of the smooth-coated otter also almost immediately sets it apart from the hairy-nosed otter (Lutra sumatrana) 7 Everywhere else in Southeast Asia, otters are in greater danger due to habitat loss, pollution and poaching for the illegal pet trade. Despite these run-ins, the Singaporeans are generally fond of their cheeky neighbors. They later became known as the "Bishan 10" after the birth of five new pups in 2016. Status, distribution and diet of the smooth-coated otter Lutrogale perspicillata (Geoffroy, 1826) in Singapore. . Hosted on AsiaOne: "Curious Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park triplet baby otters totally enamoured with terrapin, can't seem to leave it alone", by Belmont Lay. While they are able to swim in the sea, smooth-coated otters primarily require fresh water, With a general decreasing population size, smooth-coated otters have been listed as vulnerable (VU) on, . In Singapore, there are two types of otters that can be found: The smooth-coated otter and the Asian small-clawed otter. 32 “They are pushing the fish toward the shoreline so the pups can learn how to catch them,” he explains. SINGAPORE, May 30 — Singapore’s otters, long adored by the city-state’s nature lovers, are popping up in unexpected places during the coronavirus lockdown but their antics have angered some and even sparked calls for a cull. 85, Kruuk, H., 1995. It is unknown exactly how many individuals are left in the wild. After spending the morning fishing, the Bishan family rest ashore for a few hours. “But if you ask Singaporeans about the otters now, they could not only tell you what species they are, but which family they belong to, and how many babies the family has.” (Read how wildlife is hacking life in the city.). and their significance to the fish population of Kerala, India. At the edge of the lake, two leashed dogs strain toward the Zouk family. Mothership, 21 October 2015. URL: Wong, P. T., 2015. Based on behaviour, vocalizations and morphology, especially that of the skull, it was initially thought that the closest relative of L. perspicillata would be Pteronura brasiliensis (giant otter) 51 In Singapore, the species has become more common in recent years, having become adapted to highly modified aquatic habitats such as reservoirs and wide, concretised storm drains, where it feeds mainly on non-native fish species. . Oxford: Oxford University Press. There are families in Bishan, Tanah Merah, Serangoon and Pulau Ubin and the Bishan 10 family were chosen to represent the country’s 51st year. The classification of Lutrogale perspicillata is as follows 22 } imagine. However, a second recorded sighting took place more than half a century later, at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in 1990 30  52 . As such, otters in urban areas such as Singapore have often been sighted venturing into human-populated areas.  and their presence is not always welcomed. In addition, pollution of waterways by pesticides and agricultural run-off leading to a decrease in prey (fishes) for the otters has also been identified as a cause of its decline 14 Most of the smooth-coated otter's time is spent travelling and foraging, while other activities throughout the day include grooming, social activities, digging, and sprainting 18 IUCN Otter Specialist Group, 2008. . . Mothership, 9 October 2015. Singapore Biodiversity Records Group of ten smooth-coated otters at Pulau Ubin A smooth-coated otter at Changi Smooth-coated otters at Tuas Smooth-coated otter interacting with banded file snake Taxo4254 Species Pages Have a great Sunday ahead! . The bulk of the smooth-coated otter's diet (>75%) is made up of fish such as tilapia and catfish, . The Singapore Red Data Book: Threatened plants and animals of Singapore. There is also an isolated population of smooth-coated otters in Iraq, suggesting that its geographic range might have once been wider than it is today 27 Its eyes and ears are small while its limbs are short and strong 7 Photo by Max Khoo, used with permission. The Straits Times, 9 July 2015. In mid-2015, the smooth-coated otters made the headlines in Singapore for feasting on ornamental koi worth over SGD$80,000, One other threat that the smooth-coated otters are facing not in Singapore, but in the local region, is coastal development in Johor. With the streets empty, the creatures have been spotted hanging out by a … . .  52 In India, Nepal and Bangladesh, these furry creatures are even deliberately trapped and killed for their fur 14 Branch length are proportional to number of substitutions per site. As many factors influence the smooth-coated otter's activity pattern, there is no clear reason for the variation between the seasons, As Singapore experiences summer all year long, the activity pattern of the local otters have been found to be bimodal and, . This photograph taken on May 29, 2020 shows a smooth-coated otter next to a canal in Singapore. 12 URL: "Video shows Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park otters successfully integrating, mingling with Singaporeans", by Belmont Lay. Based on behaviour, vocalizations and morphology, especially that of the skull, it was initially thought that the closest relative of, However, later on, a molecular analysis for, Phylogenetic tree based on maximum likelihood analysis of a multigene data set. Gene segments are abbreviated as follows: CH=CHRNA1, GH=GHR, GN=GNAT1, PL=PLCB4, S=12S-16S rRNA, WT=WT1. However, the man has since voluntarily identified himself to the police and the otter pup has fully recovered as well, Additionally, otters are highly adaptable and inquisitive by nature. background-repeat: no-repeat; The Asian small-clawed otter can be … text-decoration: none; Close. . . Two smooth-coated otters playing, where the sharp claws on the right front foot of the otter on the left is can clearly be seen. Due to water pollution, habitat loss, and other factors, smooth-coated otters are considered vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. As citizen interest in urban otters has deepened, so has scientific research, as biologists seek to learn how urban otters fit into such a bustling landscape. Owing its name to its short, sleek fur, smooth-coated otters are one of the two otter species found in Singapore (the other being Aonyx cinerea). The use of ranks has been discarded as they do not contain any meaningful taxonomic information. ©Tan Yong Lin. Establishing the foundation for an applied molecular taxonomy of otters in Southeast Asia. A litter of smooth-coated otter pups. Smooth-coated otters are now regularly seen in Singapore and in 2016 there were reported to be 50 otters in the country. Conservation Status: Critically Endangered. When the animals first reappeared in Singapore’s waterways, they were so unknown to most that “people thought that they could be beavers or seals,” says Sivasothi, who launched the website OtterWatch to help educate locals about these new inhabitants. The Bishan otter family were first sighted at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park in 2014. Even though wild smooth-coated otters are naturally carnivores, captive otters such as those in zoos will eat nuts and raisins if given those as well 16 The fur of the smooth-coated otter is very short, growing up to only 12mm in length, thus giving it the smooth and sleek look to which it owes its common name, Like most other otters, the smooth-coated otter has webbed feet and adept paws. (Learn more about Singapore’s urban innovations.). It was probably done out of curiosity towards these fairly new creatures to Singapore and resulted in one otter pup being injured. . Images and content by others should not be used without permission. . Otter Joy, 11 April 2013. There are no specific mating seasons for smooth-coated otters and they can potentially mate all year round 23 Ever since, the sightings have been increasing in both number and range, with smooth-coated otters not just spotted at Sungei Buloh, but also places like Pasir Ris, Changi and Tanah Merah 30 Lutrogale was proposed as generic name by John Edward Gray in 1865 for otters with a convex forehead and nose, using perspicillata as type species. The tail is flat­tened, in con­trast to the more rounded tails of other species. We won't be giving details to protect it but we would like to share with you what an Asian Small-clawed Otter roaming Singapore looks like. Smooth-coated otter spotted at Sungei Buloh, Singapore, clearing showing its webbed feet. URL: "Smooth-coated otter", by Ria Tan, 2009. text-align: center; . . URL: "Otter family of 5 enrols into Saint Andrew's Junior College", by Belmont Lay. IUCN Otter Specialist Group - leading global otter conservationOtter Watch - consolidation of otter sightings in SingaporeFast Snail - watch videos of the playful resident otters in Singapore, This page was authored by Tan Jia XiuLast curated on 2015. Video credits: Fast Snail. Branch support (MBS), jackknife proportions (MJACK), bootstrap proportions (MLBOOT) and clade credibility values (BICC) are shown above the internodes from left to right. In addition, pollution of waterways by pesticides and agricultural run-off leading to a decrease in prey (fishes) for the otters has also been identified as a cause of its decline, With their diet largely comprising of fish, it comes as no surprise that smooth-coated otters also experience serious and widespread conflict with aquaculturists and fishermen, . However there are some problems in Sentosa where they are taking fish out of ponds in residential homes or luxury hotels. Have a great Sunday ahead! The original scientific name of the smooth-coated otter, or a synonym of Lutrogale perspicillata, is Lutra perspicillata. For instance, group members place road signs and educational signs at otter hot spots, as well as attempt to manage potential conflict. . Sir David Attenborough wannabe. Most of the smooth-coated otter's time is spent travelling and foraging, while other activities throughout the day include grooming, social activities, digging, and sprainting. Philip Johns, a biologist at Yale-NUS College in Singapore, is part of a team studying the urban otters and has created an app, Otter Spotter, for locals to report sightings. Thus, though baby otters look extremely adorable, be careful not to approach suddenly or get too close to the otters or you risk facing the wrath of the mother otter. But Singapore’s prevalent otter, the smooth-coated variety, is unusually social. This photograph taken on May 29, 2020 shows a smooth-coated otter next to a canal in Singapore. When asked to vote for a mascot that would represent Singapore in its 2016 National Day celebrations, citizens voted wholeheartedly for the otter. The colour varies from dark to reddish brown, with the belly slightly paler and the throat, side of neck, cheeks, and upper lip whitish or gray 7 No assessment of their status has been reported since. 42 IUCN OSG website; For Children – IOSF; Few otter publications ; Some conservation work opportunities; Contact. Though, being highly adaptable, these otters are able to rely on other food sources such as frogs, insects, crabs, other smaller mammals such as rats, and even snakes, Even though wild smooth-coated otters are naturally carnivores, captive otters such as those in zoos will eat nuts and raisins if given those as well, Activity pattern of the smooth-coated otter varies depending on the season. As many factors influence the smooth-coated otter's activity pattern, there is no clear reason for the variation between the seasons 17 Average smooth-coated otter also almost immediately sets it apart from all other otters, native to the population. Paler animal compared to L. p. maxwelli is a subset of the smooth-coated otter at., short, 1879 above it used without permission to have become extinct Singapore. Of terms, given by Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, were not explained 5 by parsimony-informative from... Population, ” Teo says worth & dollar ; 80,000 on ornamental koi worth dollar. Fish population of smooth-coated otters is revealing new insights into the lives of city-dwelling.. Additionally, do not touch, chase or corner the otters rise up of. ; Contact the `` Bishan 10 '' after the birth of five new pups 2016! A welcome development literature and verified online reports and submissions between 1998 and 2014 the. 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