A small cat saving food for later: caching behavior in the European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris)


Caching behavior consists on the relocation or storage of food to protect it from competitors, to delay food spoilage, or to exploit it during times of scarcity. While this behavior has been widely described for some medium and large-sized felids, only a few cases documented caching behavior in small felids. Here, we provide the first exhaustive description of a caching event on a European wildcat in the Cantabrian Mountains (NW Spain). The wildcat behaved like a lynx/puma, visiting a road-killed roe deer carcass at least 9 days along a 21-day period, consuming the main muscles and covering it with hair and vegetation.

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We thank the Regional Government of Castilla y León for the permits to capture wildcats (EP/P/128/2019). We thank the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities as well as TRAGSATEC S.A. for their collaboration in the trapping of European wildcats. We thank Land Rover Spain for their economic and logistic support. We thank two anonymous reviewers for their suggestions to improve the manuscript. HRV is beneficiary of a PhD scholarship “Severo Ochoa” from the Regional Government of Principality of Asturias. JVLB was supported by a Ramón y Cajal research contract (RYC-2015-18932) from the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness.

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Land Rover Spain supported our research economically and logistically. HRV is beneficiary of a PhD scholarship “Severo Ochoa” from the Regional Government of Principality of Asturias. JVLB was supported by a Ramón y Cajal research contract (RYC-2015-18932) from the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness.

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Correspondence to Héctor Ruiz-Villar.

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Ruiz-Villar, H., López-Bao, J.V. & Palomares, F. A small cat saving food for later: caching behavior in the European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris). Eur J Wildl Res 66, 76 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10344-020-01413-x

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  • Caching behavior
  • Carnivore
  • Felidae
  • European wildcat
  • Felis silvestris