Prey composition of the black-footed cat
Friday, 30th June 2006
Seasonal and sex-specific prey composition of black-footed cats Felis nigripes
During a 6-year field study on the game farm ‘Benfontein’ in the central Republic of South Africa 1725 prey items were observed consumed by 17 free-ranging habituated black-footed cats Felis nigripes Burchell, 1824. Average prey size was 24.1 g. Eight males fed on significantly larger prey (27.9 g) than 9 females (20.8 g). Fifty-four prey species were classified by their average mass into 8 different size classes, 3 for mammals, 3 for birds, 1 for amphibians/reptiles, and 1 for invertebrates. Small mammals (5–40 g) constituted the most important prey class (39%) of total prey biomass followed by larger mammals (>100 g; 17%) and small birds ( 100 g) were mainly consumed. Small rodents like the large-eared mouseMalacothrix typica, captured 595 times by both sexes, were particularly important during the reproductive season for females with kittens. Male black-footed cats showed less variation between prey size classes consumed among climatic seasons. This sex-specific difference in prey size consumption may help to reduce intra-specific competition.