Variation in digestive efficiency of captive North American river otters on various diets

Source: Zoo Biology, vol 26, issue 1, 2006
Energy content, proximate nutrient values, passage rate, and digestive efficiency associated with various diet types and factors affecting these parameters have not been quantified for the North American river otter.
We measured energy digestive efficiency (DEff) and intestinal passage rate of three captive river otters (Lontra canadensis) on their regular diet (a combination of polar bear diet, cat food, and feline diet) and on test diets consisting of the constituent components of their regular diet. Gross energy, crude protein, crude fat, and crude fiber varied appreciably among diet components. Caloric DEff values were high (cat food and polar bear diet combination: 83.11%; regular diet: 86.62%; feline diet: 90.22%) indicating diets high in fat and protein permit greater energy absorption. Passage rates ranged from 167-188 minutes and were influenced by level of activity such that passage rate was more rapid at higher levels of activity. Coefficients of variation (CV) from DEff (CV=1.51) and digesta passage rates (CV=7.35) were dissimilar, indicating that a direct measure may yield a more precise estimate of absorption over digesta passage rates. To further understand energy handling by river otters on diets used in zoologic institutions and to better provide the nutrient dense diets this active species requires, additional studies quantifying energetic parameters for captive otters of various genders, ages, and reproductive conditions on other diet types are needed.

Title: Variation in digestive efficiency of captive North American river otters (Lontra canadensis) on various diets

Authors: Steffany C. White, David W. Clark, Carrie D. Day, Robert S. Sikes