Les hommes ont oublié cette vérité. Mais tu ne dois pas l'oublier, dit le renard. Tu deviens responsable pour toujours de ce que tu as apprivoisé.
Le Petit Prince, chap. 21

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Feral cats' diet in Australia

Another pair of articles and a review on cats' diet in Australia.

Paltridge, R., D. Gibson & G. Edwards. 1997. Diet of the Feral Cat (Felis catus) in Central Australia. Wildlife Research 24(1) 67 - 76

Feral cats (Felis catus) occur throughout central Australia. In this study, we analysed the stomach contents of 390 feral cats collected between 1990 and 1994 from the southern half of the Northern Territory. Cats fed on a wide variety of invertebrates, reptiles, birds and mammals, including animals up to their own body mass in size. Mammals were the most important prey but reptiles were regularly eaten in summer and birds were important in winter. Invertebrates were present in the diet in all seasons. Carrion appeared in stomach samples during dry winters only and this has implications for future control of feral cats.

Martin, G.R., L.E. Twigg & DJ Robinson. 1996. Comparison of the Diet of Feral Cats From Rural and Pastoral Western Australia. Wildlife Research 23(4): 475 - 484

The stomach contents of 93 cats from rural and pastoral Western Australia were compared using the number and biomass of food items, and by calculating an Index of Relative Importance for each food category. Species of small native mammals (e.g. dasyurids, rodents) and geckos were significantly (P < 0.03) more prevalent in the diet of pastoral cats, and rural cats consumed greater (P < 0.03) quantities of introduced rodents and rabbits. Several other groups of native animals (e.g. snakes, skinks, agamids) were also more prevalent in the stomachs of pastoral cats (P < 0.10). Birds and orthopterans were important food items to cats from both habitats. There was reasonable dietary overlap (mean = 0.71) between the cats from both habitats, but the dietary breadth of the pastoral cats (mean = 0.44) was two-fold greater than that of the rural cats (mean = 0.21). These findings are compared with previous studies, and are discussed with respect to possible implications for future management strategies for feral cats.

Major prey of prey of feral cats in Australia (from Dickman, C. R. 1996)

Data collected from 22 studies of feral cats in mainland Australia suggest that mammals comprise the major prey of feral cats in most localities. Introduced rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) and house mice (Mus domesticus) predominate in semi-arid to arid habitats, whereas marsupials (especially the common ringtail possom (Pseudocheirus peregrinus) are predominant in temperate forest, urban and suburban habitats (Dickman 1996). Brushtail possoms (Trichosurus vulpecula), sugar gliders (Petaurus breviceps), greater gliders (Petauroides volans) and smaller prey such as brown antechinus (Antechinus stuartii), brush rat (Rattus fuscipes) and swamp rat (Rattus lutreolus) are consistently part of the diet of feral cats in the temperate forests of Australia. In wet-dry tropical habitats where rabbits do not occur native Rattus spp. become more important, including the pale field rat (Rattus tunneyi), dusky rat (R. colletti) and the long-haired rat (Rattus villosissimus).
Smaller rodents such as the spinifex hopping mouse (Notomys alexis) and the sandy inland mouse (Pseudomys hermannburgensis) may also be preyed upon. Birds are represented most highly in
temperate forest, urban and suburban habitats. Small species such as wrens (Malurus spp.), robins (Petroica spp.) and thornbills (Acanthiza spp.) have all been recorded, as have larger species such as galahs (Cacatua roseicapilla), magpies (Gymnorhina tibicen) species of parrots (Psephotus spp.). Species such as geckos and flap-footed lizards and diurnal species of skinks, dragons, goannas and snakes have often been recorded in the feral cat's diet (Dickman 1996).
Reviews of the diet of feral cats in mainland areas in other parts of the world reveal great similarities with the situation in Australia (Corbett, 1979, Fitzgerald and Karl 1979, Liberg 1984, Fitzgerald 1988, Kitchener 1991, in Dickman 1996). In all studies, mammals have consistently comprised the major part of the diet throughout the year, with other vertebrates, especially birds, comprising only a minor component. Rabbits
and murid rodents, especially Rattus species, appear to be favoured prey, and together comprise the bulk of the diet of feral cats in some localities over long periods.

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