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

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Diet of feral cats in NZ forest

Fitzgerald, A. M., & Karl, B. J. (1979). Foods of feral house cats (Felis catus L.) in forest of the Orongorongo Valley, Wellington. New Zealand journal of zoology,6(1), 107-126.

The foods of feral house cats in forest in the Orongorongo Valley, Wellington, were studied over 3 years and related to the availability of prey. Some cats were trapped, tagged, and released, and could be identified individually by coat colour and pattern. The number of cats, estimated from live-trapping and sightings, was stable during the study. Examination of 677 scats revealed that mammals (rat, rabbit, opossum, mouse, and stoat, in descending order of importance) formed the bulk of the diet by weight. Remains of birds occurred in 12% of scats, but birds were estimated to form only 4.5% by weight of the diet. Insect fragments were present in many scats; wetas (Orthoptera), cicadas (Hemiptera), and beetles (Colcoptera) were important seasonally. Although eaten in large numbers, they contributed very little by weight to the diet. Populations of rats, rabbits, and opossums were fairly stable during the study; mice were abundant for most of the first 18 months, but were scarce in the last year. The literature on the food habits of feral house cats is reviewed; it emphasises that cats are primarily predators of small mammals (rodents and lagomorphs). Predation by feral cats can be important in holding rat and rabbit populations at low densities and in reducing seasonal fluctuations in their numbers. Cats can also exert heavy predation pressure on low-density mouse populations. Although the cats now eat few birds, they may have been responsible for reducing the numbers of some forest birds in the past.

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