Otters eat about 15 to 25 percent of their body weight each day. Smooth-coated otters are not fussy eaters, and they tend to eat whatever is available where they are. Their diet usually reflects the diversity of fish species in the waters they inhabit, as well as the absence of predators. Singapore’s waterways today have enough marine life that otters can comfortably survive in them.
N. Sivasothi, a senior lecturer from the Department of Biological Science, Faculty of Science, National University of Singapore, has been monitoring and following these otters with his students for years. According to Sivasothi, otters are social species, and they almost always travel together in families.
Lone otters are typically males in search of a group, and the size of these groups varies according to what different environments can provide. If there is less food around, otter families will split up into smaller packs to seek food.
There are laws against the trapping and killing of otters in Singapore. The Wild Animals and Birds Act (WABA) protects wildlife, but the law requires evidence of the act, which can make things difficult when preventive action is required. The current WABA review is addressing this.
For otters to continue thriving, they require adequate space to feed in, reproduce, dry their fur, and rest. Critically, the fish species that otters rely on as sources of food need to thrive in Singapore’s waterways for the otters to remain. Otters need space to rest and sleep, and especially to dry their fur off after a hunting swim—this helps them maintain the waterproofing ability of their fur before they return to the water again.