Food habits of feral cats (Felis silvestris catus L.) in insular semiarid environments (Fuerteventura, Canary Islands)

In this study, we present the first data on diet and impacts of feral cats on a semiarid island (Fuerteventura, Canary Islands). A total of 614 prey was identified in the 209 scats analysed. Introduced mammals, especially rabbits and mice, were the most consumed vertebrate prey and constituted more than 90% of biomass. Barbary ground squirrels, Algerian hedgehogs, and rats were preyed upon less even though they were abundant on the island. Invertebrates, mainly Orthoptera, Coleoptera, Hymenoptera and Odonata, were the second most important prey items (in terms of actual numbers) but they contributed only minimally with respect to biomass (<1.1%). The presence of terrestrial molluscs in the diet was interesting because they are a rare prey in an insular context. Birds and reptiles occurred at a low frequency. A total of 677 seeds was counted, mainly belonging to Lycium intricatum (Solanaceae) and two unidentified plant species. Levin?s niche breadth was narrow due to the high consumption of mammals. Morisita?s index showed a similar trophic overlap in diet with respect to the other xeric habitats of the Canarian archipelago. Considering that more than 90% of biomass corresponded to introduced mammals, we conclude that feral cats are not having a large direct impact on the native prey species.

Author Félix M. Medina, Marta López-Darias, Manuel Nogales and Rafael García
Date 21/04/2008
Year 2008
Secondary title Wildlife Research
Volume 35
Number 2
Pages 162?169
Notes Notes