Wildlife

Feral Cats Are Devouring Australia’s Reptiles

Outdoor cats are feasting on the reptiles of Australia, and conservationists are concerned about the toll their snacking habits might take on the country’s biodiversity.

Feral cats kill, on average, 1 million reptiles each day in Australia, according to a new study published today (June 25) in the journal Wildlife Research.

Feral cats (Felis catus) are those animals that used to be (or their ancestors used to be) domesticated, but who now roam in the wild. In the 18th century, the Europeans who came to Australia introduced these furry felines to the continent, bringing them along as pets, according to the study. But 230 years later, the descendants of those cats — totaling more than 2 million — are now menacing populations of lizards, turtles and snakes. [Here, Kitty, Kitty: 10 Facts for Cat Lovers]

To figure out the toll cats took on Australian reptiles, the researchers looked at more than 80 studies that included, in total, analyses of more than 10,000 samples of cat poop or stomach samples. They found that the feral cats in the studies eat 258 different kinds of Australian reptiles, including 11 threatened species such as the Christmas Island forest skink (Emoia nativitatis), the pygmy copperhead snake (Austrelaps labialis) and some turtles. They also found that the cats hunted reptiles much more in areas that were hotter and drier.

However, the actual number is likely higher. That’s because many reptiles are local to specific areas of Australia, and the researchers weren’t able to sample every region of the country. Rainforests, for example, were largely unsampled, they wrote.

Some of the cats in the studies truly indulged: For example, one cat was found to have the remains of 40 reptiles in its stomach, most of which were lined earless dragons (Tympanocryptis lineata), and another cat was found to have ingested 27 skinks, according to the study.

In total, feral cats were responsible for killing, on average, 466 million reptiles a year in Australia, most of which were native to the continent. But when the researchers also added in pet cats and cats who roam in areas where they can find food from humans (such as cities or dumps), they found that all cats in the country were responsible for killing, on average, 649 million reptiles a year.

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Gl sst mm

In the western Pacific: Tropical depression (td) 03w (Jelawat), located approximately 156 nm north-northeast of Koror, Palau, is tracking northeastward at 04 knots.

In the southern hemisphere: Tropical cyclone 17p (Iris), located approximately 451 nm west-northwest of Noumea, New Caledonia, is tracking southward at 07 knots.

Newsbytes:

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Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Gl sst mm

In the western Pacific: Tropical depression (td) 03w (Jelawat), located approximately 131 nm southwest of Yap, Fsm, is tracking west-northwestward at 12 knots.

In the southern hemisphere: Tropical cyclone 17p (Iris), located approximately 531 nm west-northwest of Noumea, New Caledonia, is tracking southward at 10 knots.

Newsbytes:

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Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Gl sst mm

In the western Pacific: Tropical depression (td) 03w (Jelawat), located approximately 131 nm southwest of Yap, Fsm, is tracking west-northwestward at 12 knots.

In the southern hemisphere: Tropical cyclone 17p (Iris), located approximately 531 nm west-northwest of Noumea, New Caledonia, is tracking southward at 10 knots.

Newsbytes:

Australia – Flooding rain from ex-cyclone Nora has sparked more than 100 calls for help in far north Queensland. Low lying parts of Cairns have flooded, and in the tourist town of Port Douglas, water has crept up to the doors of some holiday apartments. Landslides and debris also closed roads in the region, including the Captain Cook Highway north of Cairns. In just a few hours, 130mm of rain fell in some locations, with the wild weather caused by the low pressure system that was Cyclone Nora, hundreds of kilometres to the west.

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Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:Gl sst mm

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Newsbytes:

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Storms and Floods

Tropical Storms – Roundup of Tropical Storms:

Gl sst mm

In the southern hemisphere: Tropical cyclone (tc) 11s (Dumazile), located approximately 447 nm south of St. Denis, Reunion, is tracking south-southwestward at 08 knots.

Tropical cyclone 12p (Hola), located approximately 118 nm northwest of Port Vila, Vanuatu, is tracking southwestward at 06 knots.

Newsbytes:

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