The Asian Small-clawed Otter is unique in that it is the only species to live in extended family groups. Although they do eat fish, it is more typical to observe them working a river bank or mangrove swamp as a team as large as thirty.
They use their fore feet, with reduced sized claws, to feel in the mud for molluscs and crustaceans eg. shellfish, crayfish and crabs. Here they will feed on choice chicken as much as any fish. This species has been a regular breeding animal at Thrigby.
These are the most numerous, in terms of species and numbers, of all mammals. Cavies, mice, rats, gerbils, hamsters, spiny mice, squirrels and chinchillas are all groupings classified as rodents. The most obvious attributes are their long, continuously growing incisor or gnawing front teeth. Most rodents are relatively small and largely vegetarian converting grasses, bark, leaves, stems, roots and cereals into protein. They become food for other mammals and birds up the food chain such as hawks, owls, stoats, weasels, martins, badgers, foxes and snakes.
Several rodents are on display here including Hamsters, Chipmunks, Porcupines and Prevost's Squirrels. Rodent species have occupied niches in nearly all habitats except the extreme polar regions and the marine environment.
Hamsters live on and underground, Chipmunks (ground squirrels) and Prevost's Squirrels are examples of adaptable climbers at shrub and tree level.
Porcupines are fascinating, being particularly large for rodents, burrowers and are noteable for their body armour of sharp spines. These can be rattled and raised or lowered according to mood, for defence from predation, real or imagined.