, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 27-38

Seasonal and annual variation in the diet of the raccoon dogNyctereutes procyonoides in northern Belarus: the role of habitat type and family group

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To study variation in the diet of the raccoon dogNyctereutes procyonoides Gray, 1834 in northern Belarus, 3299 scats were sampled from 18 localities differing in habitat quality. In one of the 18 localities, the dietary study was conducted for nine years. The data obtained was analysed according to seasonality, between-year difference, family specificity and habitat influence. In northern Belarus, the raccoon dog was found to be a generalist predator with omnivorous and opportunistic feeding habits. Their diet was highly variable, but a common trait was specialization on carrion in winter and on berries in late summer. Beside carrion and berries, the other seasonally important food items were frogs, insects, plant matter, mammals, and birds. The diet varied between seasons and habitats. In the warm season, habitat factors, such as type of soil (clay or sand), proportion of lakes and open grassy marshes, seemingly determine the food supply for raccoon dogs, and thereby influence the diet of individuals. The obtained results on dietary variation of raccoon dogs can be used in detailed analysis of the impact of this introduced species on native fauna and its role in functioning of vertebrate communities.

Associate editor was Karol Zub.