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Renal calculi in wild Eurasian otters (Lutra lutra) in England
  1. V. R. Simpson, BVSc, DTVM, CBiol, FIBiol, HonFRCVS1,
  2. A. J. Tomlinson, MA, VetMB, MSc, MRCVS1,
  3. F. M. Molenaar, DVM, MSc, MRCVS1,
  4. B. Lawson, MA, VetMB, MSc, PhD, DipECZM, MRCVS1 and
  5. K. D. Rogers, BSc, PhD2
  1. Wildlife Veterinary Investigation Centre, Chacewater, Truro, Cornwall TR4 8PB
  2. Cranfield Forensic Institute, Cranfield University, Shrivenham Campus, Swindon, Wiltshire SN6 8LA
  1. E-mail for correspondence wildlife.vic{at}
  • Ms Tomlinson's present address is Food and Environment Research Agency, Woodchester Park, Nympsfield, Stonehouse, Gloucestershire GL10 3UJ

  • Mrs Molenaar's present address is Plasparciau, Meidrim Road, St Clears, Dyfed SA33 4DW

  • Dr Lawson's present address is Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London NW1 4RY

Macroscopic renal calculi were seen in 50 of 492 (10.2 per cent) wild Eurasian otters found dead in England from 1988 to 2007. Forty-eight adults and two subadults were affected. Calculi were present in 15.7 per cent (31 of 197) of adult males and 12.7 per cent (17 of 134) of adult females. There was an increase in prevalence in the study population over time; no calculi were found in 73 otters examined between 1988 and 1996, but in most subsequent years they were observed with increased frequency. Calculi occurred in both kidneys but were more common in the right kidney. They varied greatly in shape and size; larger calculi were mostly seen in the calyces while the smallest ones were commonly found in the renal medulla. Calculi from 45 cases were examined by x-ray diffraction analysis; in 43 (96 per cent), they were composed solely of ammonium acid urate. Affected otters had heavier adrenal glands relative to their body size than unaffected otters (P<0.001). There was no significant association between body condition index and the presence of calculi (P>0.05). Many otters had fresh bite wounds consistent with intraspecific aggression. The proportion bitten increased over time and this coincided with the increased prevalence of renal calculi.

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  • Provenance not commissioned; externally peer reviewed

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