1887

Otters

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Abstract

The Eurasian otter is the only otter native to the British Isles. Two other species, the Asian small-clawed otter and the American river otter are commonly kept in captivity and occasionally escape. The majority of otter casualties are victims of road traffic accidents; bite wounds and abandoned or orphaned cubs are also commonly seen. This chapter covers: ecology and biology; anatomy and physiology; capture, handling and transportation; clinical assessment; first aid and hospitalization; anaesthesia and analgesia; specific conditions; therapeutics; husbandry; rearing of otter cubs; rehabilitation and release; and legal considerations.

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Figures

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18.1 Adult Eurasian otter with dogfish (). (Courtesy of B Couper)
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18.2 View showing staggered alignment of lower incisors. This is normal. (© Vic Simpson)
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18.6 Young otter presented to a wildlife centre with abscessed wounds to the head, likely to be associated with intraspecific attack; there is also a heavy tick burden.
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18.7 Healing bite wounds to the face of a young adult otter caused by intraspecific aggression. Note also the loss of lower incisors. The erosion of enamel on the anterior aspect of the lower canine is a common finding and of no clinical significance. This otter also had severe bite wounds around the perineum. (© Vic Simpson)
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18.8 Multiple deep bite wounds around the anus and base of the tail caused by intraspecific aggression. In many cases the genital organs are also bitten. (© Vic Simpson)
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18.9 (a) Transverse fracture of an upper carnassial tooth (PM4) with resulting root abscess. Similar fractures of the lower carnassials (M1) occur but less frequently. (b) An intubated otter showing a shattered upper right canine tooth and loss of skin over the point of the lower jaw. These are highly typical injuries in road casualty otters and are often associated with serious traumatic lesions elsewhere in the body. (a, © Vic Simpson)
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18.10 The left lung of an otter showing numerous lesions suggestive of tuberculosis. However, histopathological examination showed that they are partially mineralized granulomas due to adiaspiromycosis. (© Vic Simpson)
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18.11 Otter cub suffering from hydrocephalus. Note the markedly domed cranium. The animal was showing signs of ataxia. (© Vic Simpson)
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18.12 Sagittal section through a kidney affected by urolithiasis. One calculus has been left in the grossly thickened calyx. Note the cystic degeneration of several lobules and the extensive replacement fibrosis. (© Vic Simpson)
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18.13 The opened stomach of an otter showing masses of blackish mucoid material, which also extended through much of the intestine. These changes are often seen in severely debilitated cases, especially those with severe bite wounds. (© Vic Simpson)
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18.15 Otter pen at a rehabilitation centre. Note wooden ‘holt’, provision of water for swimming and observation using CCTV camera. The high secure fences are electrified when the pen is in use. (© Secret World Wildlife Rescue)
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18.16 Otter cub at a rehabilitation centre, eating a small trout. The fish should be skinned, filleted and flaked for very young cubs or weaker individuals. (© Secret World Wildlife Rescue)

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