, Volume 55, Issue 2, pp 165-176

Diet of the raccoon dog Nyctereutes procyonoides — a canid with an opportunistic foraging strategy

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Abstract

We examined the raccoon dog’s Nyctereutes procyonoides (Gray, 1834) diet in two agricultural landscapes of Germany and compared these results with other diet studies from its native and introduced ranges. The diet composition was influenced as well by the landscape structures as by the seasons: in the waterrich study area 2 amphibians (54.1%) and fish (10.8%) occurred more frequently in the samples. In study area 1 amphibians (19.0%) and invertebrates (69.4%) gained more significance in the diet in summer, whereas in winter samples maize (32.8%) was an important food item. The diet composition shifted according to the availability of different food items. Raccoon dogs, ability to feed temporarily on one food source may possibly cause a serious problem to endangered small populations of birds and amphibians. The review of 81 data sets from nine countries showed that seasons and locality affected the occurrence of most food items. However, comparable to the present study, small mammals, insects and plants were identified as important food items both in native and introduced ranges of the raccoon dog. In regard to its diet composition, gathering foraging strategy and inactivity during winter, the raccoon dog probably preys less often on game animals and birds than the native red fox Vulpes vulpes.

Associate editor was Andrzej Zalewski.