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Hair density in the Eurasian otter Lutra lutra and the Sea otter Enhydra lutris

Abstract

The hair density of adult Eurasian otters Lutra lutra (Linnaeus, 1758) and sea otters Enhydra lutris (Linnaeus, 1758) was analysed using skin samples taken from frozen carcasses. Lutra lutra exhibited a mean hair density of about 70 000 hairs/cm2 (whole body, appendages excepted), the mean individual density ranging from about 60 000 to 80 000 hairs/cm2. The dominant hair type were secondary hairs (wool hairs), the hair coat comprising only 1.26% of primary hairs (PH). Secondary hair (SH) density remained constant over the body (appendages excepted), whereas a few variations in PH density were observed. Neither an influence of the sex, nor a seasonal variation of the hair coat was found, moulting seems to be continuous. Enhydra lutris had a hair density between 120 000 and 140 000 hairs/cm2, the primary hairs representing less than 1% within the hair coat. Hair density remained quite constant over the regions of the trunk but was lower at the head (about 60 000 hairs/cm2 on the cheek). The hair follicles were arranged in specific groups with different bundles of varying size, normally comprising dominant numbers of wool hair (SH) follicles. Invariably there was always a large central primary hair follicle and numerous sebaceous glands between the bundles and principally around the PH follicles. The results are discussed related to possible ecological influences on hair coat density.

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Correspondence to Wilfried Meyer.

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Associate editor was Andrzej Zalewski.

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Kuhn, R.A., Ansorge, H., Godynicki, S. et al. Hair density in the Eurasian otter Lutra lutra and the Sea otter Enhydra lutris . Acta Theriol 55, 211–222 (2010). https://doi.org/10.4098/j.at.0001-7051.014.2009

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.4098/j.at.0001-7051.014.2009

Key words

  • Lutrinae
  • hair coat
  • hair follicles
  • hair group structure
  • seasonal variation
  • insulation