a1 School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF10 3AX, UK
Gall bladders from 273 otter carcasses, collected throughout England and Wales, were screened to assess the status of gall bladder parasites in the Eurasian otter, Lutra lutra. The digenean Pseudamphistomum truncatum had previously been found in UK otters collected between 2000 and 2007. The parasite was established in Somerset and Dorset but its distribution elsewhere in the UK was largely unknown. In the current study, P. truncatum was also found to be abundant in south Wales, with occasional cases elsewhere, but appears to be absent from the north of England. Overall, 11·7% of otters were infected with 1–238 P. truncatum. A second digenean, Metorchis albidus, previously unreported in British otters, was found in the biliary system of 6·6% of otters. M. albidus appears well established in Suffolk, Norfolk and north Essex but was recorded elsewhere rarely. Both parasites are associated with pathological damage to the otter gall bladder. The recent discovery of these two non-native parasites provides a unique opportunity to assess their impact on native British fauna.
(Received February 11 2009)
(Revised April 19 2009)
(Accepted April 29 2009)
(Online publication June 15 2009)