Mammalian Biology

, Volume 74, Issue 3, pp 169–181 | Cite as

Trophic ecology of feral cats (Felis silvestris f. catus) in the main environments of an oceanic archipelago (Canary Islands): An updated approach

  • Manuel NogalesEmail author
  • Félix M. Medina


The diet of feral cats in the main habitats of the Canary Islands is composed of introduced mammals, birds, reptiles and insects. However, introduced mammals constitute the main source of biomass consumed, followed in importance by reptiles and birds. PCA analysis of biomass revealed the ordination of three different groups, corresponding to the diet in the laurel forest (La Gomera), thermophilous forest (El Hierro) and one large group that include the rest of habitat types. A similar pattern was observed when these habitats were analyzed in a single island (La Palma). Oryctolagus cuniculus was an important prey in practically all habitats, while Rattus rattus was frequently captured in the laurel forest, Mus musculus domesticus in the open shrubs (both xeric and high mountain), reptiles (mainly lizards genus Gallotia) in the open habitats of Tenerife, birds play a relative role in forest habitats, and large invertebrates (basically Orthoptera and Coleoptera) in the three forest habitats and in the xerophytic shrub of Fuerteventura. Morisita’s index of similarity of diet showed maximum differences between the forest habitats (pine and thermophilous vs. laurel forest), indicating an important heterogeneity in the diet of feral cats in these environments. Shrub habitats showed smaller values of Levin’s niche breadth than those from the forest habitats, showing a broader diet in the latter. Lastly, the diet of feral cats on the Canary Islands follows the general pattern of other islands located at similar latitude and mainly composed by rabbits and mice. However, specific preys such as lizards, rats or birds, play an important role in particular habitats in which they are abundant.


Felis silvestris f. catus Canary Islands Carnivore Food habits Island ecology 


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Copyright information

© Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Island Ecology and Evolution Research Group (IPNA-CSIC)La LagunaSpain
  2. 2.Consejería de Medio AmbienteCabildo Insular de La PalmaSanta Cruz de La PalmaSpain

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