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Patterns and significance of bite wounds in Eurasian otters (Lutra lutra) in southern and south-west England
  1. V. R. Simpson, BVSc, DTVM, CBiol, FIBiol, HonFRCVS1
  1. 1Wildlife Veterinary Investigation Centre, Jollys Bottom Farm, Chacewater, Truro, Cornwall TR4 8PB

Abstract

Postmortem examinations were carried out on 379 otters found dead in southern and south-west England between 1988 and 2003. Most (81 per cent) were road casualties, but many had open bite wounds and in some cases these had proved fatal. Mortality was strongly seasonal and was positively correlated with night length. Although numbers decreased in the summer months, the prevalence of bite wounds in adults was highest in late summer. The number of otters examined annually and the prevalence of bite wounds increased markedly during the study period, and in 2003 more than half the otters of both sexes had recent bite wounds. The majority of the bites were considered to have been caused by other otters, but some were thought to have been inflicted by American mink (Mustela vison). Bites to cubs were mostly caused by domestic dogs. The overall mortality due to bite wounds was approximately 10 per cent.

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