Urolithiasis in free-ranging and captive otters (Lutra lutra and Aonyx cinerea) in Europe

Monika Bochmann, Stephan Steinlechner, Albrecht Hesse, Hans Henrik Dietz, Heike Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Between 1996 and 1998, 477 dead otters from different Central European countries were examined for urolithiasis, including 449 free-ranging Eurasian otters (Lutra lutra) as well as 17 Eurasian otters and 11 Asian small-clawed otters (Aonyx cinerea) from captivity. In the free-ranging specimens, uroliths (sand or stones) were found in 105 animals (23.4%), with no significant difference (P = 0.77) between the sexes. Uroliths were not present in any juveniles (n = 26) and urolithiasis was not considered the main cause of death in any individual. In captive specimens, uroliths were found in 11 out of 17 Eurasian otters (64.7%; four males and seven females), and in 3 out of 11 Asian small-clawed otters (27.3%). Histology could not find any signs of inflammation in examined kidneys (n = 179) or urinary bladders (n = 66). Analyzed stones of free-ranging and captive Eurasian otters were composed mainly of ammonium acid urate. The stones of three captive Asian small-clawed otters consisted mainly of calcium oxalate. The difference in prevalence of uroliths between free-ranging and captive Eurasian otters was significant (P <0.001). Nevertheless, the prevalence in free-ranging specimens of this study is higher than reported before. Differences between various habitats, environmental changes, and genetic predisposition all represent potential hypothetical explanations for these findings.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)725-731
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Ammonium acid urate uroliths
  • Aonyx cinerea
  • Asian small-clawed otter
  • calcium oxalate uroliths
  • Eurasian otter
  • Lutra lutra

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