A Perth Zoo  otter underwent a CT scan at Murdoch University recently after keepers observed him repeatedly shaking his head.‘Kiri’ the Asian small clawed otter was brought to The Animal Hospital at Murdoch University so our experts and Perth Zoo vets could take a look inside his head.
Initial investigations by Perth Zoo’s Senior Veterinarian Simone Vitali and her team found that Kiri was in perfect health.
Thankfully the CT scan revealed no major abnormalities, meaning a health issue can be ruled out but keepers will keep Kiri under close observation.
Dr Jennifer Richardson , a lecturer in diagnostic imaging who carried out the scan, said salivary gland stones had been detected in Kiri’s salivary glands but it was not known if these were causing Kiri to shake his head.
“The stones are tiny, certainly not big enough to cause major issues or to necessitate invasive surgery, so the keepers will continue to keep an eye on Kiri so he remains in great health,” said Dr Richardson.
Murdoch’s computed tomography scanner (commonly known as a CT scanner) is worth around $180,000 and provides a 360 degree x-ray of an animal’s body.
The high tech diagnostic tool is one of only three CT scanners of its kind in Western Australia and is capable of accommodating horses as well as smaller animals.
Kiri’s scan at Murdoch involved several staff from both organisations. First the active animal, weighing in at 4kgs, had to be coaxed from his carry cage so he could be anaesthetised by Murdoch vet staff.
Otters are well known escape artists so the vets and zoo staff had to be on their toes to catch Kiri when he eventually came out.
After he was anaesthetised, Kiri was taken to the CT scanner and carefully placed in the machine so the imaging team could obtain clear pictures of his head.
The process, which took around two hours, was watched by around 30 veterinary students, all eager to learn more about the anatomy of an otter.
After Kiri came round from the anesthetic, he was taken back to Perth Zoo where he was back to normal in no time.