Wildlife Research Wildlife Research Society
Ecology, management and conservation in natural and modified habitats

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

Félix M. Medina A C E , Marta López-Darias B C , Manuel Nogales C and Rafael García D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Unidad de Medio Ambiente, Cabildo Insular de La Palma, Avenida Los Indianos 20, 2°, 38700 Santa Cruz de La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain.

B Department of Applied Biology (EBD-CSIC), Pabellón del Perú, Avenida María Luisa s/n, 41013 Sevilla, Spain.

C Island Ecology and Evolution Research Group (IPNA-CSIC), Astrofísico Francisco Sánchez 3, 38206 La Laguna, Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain.

D C/ San Miguel 9, 38700 Santa Cruz de La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain.

E Corresponding author. Email: felix.medina@cablapalma.es

Wildlife Research 35(2) 162-169 https://doi.org/10.1071/WR07108
Submitted: 1 August 2007  Accepted: 29 February 2008   Published: 21 April 2008


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.


We thank the Unidad de Medio Ambiente del Cabildo Insular de Fuerteventura for its logistic support and permission to work on the protected areas. The Cabildo Insular de La Palma gave us logistic support during the analysis. Miguel Ibáñez helped us in the identification of mollusc species. Marta López-Darias was funded by a FPU grant financed by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science, and partially by the Obra Social de La Caja de Canarias. This contribution has been carried out during the project GL2004-04884-C02-01/BOS financed by the Spanish Ministry of Science and the European Union.


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