Saturday, February 24, 2007

Purring predator - pet cats and wildlife (Great Britain)

Many Britishers seem stoic about cat predation. Why I can't fathom.
Mammal Society findings
Our sample cats killed more than 14,000 mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. With a population in Britain estimated as in excess of 8 million, domestic moggies could be killing 275 million creatures a year. True to the stereotype, mice are top of the list, followed by field and bank voles. Cats killed almost as many shrews, though these are rarely eaten because of their distasteful glands. Less-common species, such as water shrews, harvest mice and yellow-necked mice, along with protected water voles and dormice, were also taken.
Cats also took larger mammals, including high numbers of rabbits, squirrels, weasels and even a few stoats. Cats took a worrying number of bats, generally by waiting outside roost entrances and hooking them as they emerged at dusk.
The variety of bird species taken was astonishing and included jays, woodpeckers, gulls, treecreepers, goldcrests and swifts, although sparrows were top by a long way. As for reptiles and amphibians, frogs were well to the fore, followed by slow-worms. Rare sand lizards also featured.

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