The Asian small-clawed otter is the smallest of the 13 otter species. They have brown on top and are pale grey underneath. They have a layer of guard fur over a fine undercoat to keep them warm when in water. The webbing on their paw stops at the last joint and the claws do not go past the finger tips. This allows for greater dexterity as they catch a lot of food with their hands, where other species catch prey with their mouths. They have slender streamlined bodies for slicing gracefully through the water and short legs. Their tail is 1/3 the length of the body. Small-clawed otters live in social groups, with up to 12 individuals per group.
Small-clawed otters are monogamous and both parents raise the offspring. Gestation lasts for 60 to 64 days and the female will give birth to up to 7 young but usually 1-2. The young take their first swim after 7-9 weeks. During this time the males will feed the nursing females. The young are fully weaned by 14 weeks.
Their main threat is the loss of habitat, resulting from the draining of mangroves and peat swamp forests for agriculture and urbanization.