Australian feral cats kill a million reptiles a day: study

June 25, 2018
Feral cats in Australia eat a 'staggering' number of reptiles, researchers have found

Feral cats kill more than one million reptiles every day in Australia, a new study showed Monday, with the staggering slaughter threatening many species.

Cats have wiped out entire populations of some animals in Australia since being introduced by Europeans settlers two centuries ago, with efforts to cull or sterilise them so far failing to slow their march.

The new findings are based on more than 10,000 cat dietary samples contributed by environmental scientists across the country.

In total, around 650 million lizards and snakes fall victim to feral and annually, they found.

"On average each feral cat kills 225 reptiles per year," said lead researcher John Woinarski, from Charles Darwin University, adding that consume more reptiles in Australia than in the United States or Europe.

"Some cats eat staggering numbers of reptiles. We found many examples of single cats bingeing on lizards, with a record of 40 individual lizards in a single cat stomach."

The study, published in the journal Wildlife Research, showed cats were killing 250 different types of —including great desert skinks, bearded dragons and geckos. Of these, 11 are threatened species.

Feral cats in Australia number in the millions, and are also considered the main culprit behind the country's high rate of mammal extinction.

Research by the same team last year showed cats were killing more than one million birds in Australia each day, including threatened species like the spotted quail thrush, the squatter pigeon, and the night parrot.

While there is an undeniable impact, Australia's Threatened Species Commissioner Sally Box said it was hard to pinpoint exactly how badly cats were affecting reptiles.

This is because population sizes are not known for most reptile .

The government has earmarked more than Aus$30 million (US$23 million) for projects to reduce the impact of feral cats on wildlife.

The Australian Wildlife Conservancy last month finished a 44-kilometre (27-mile) long electrified fence to create a cat-free zone of almost 9,400 hectares (23,200 acres) in the desert.

The area will be extended to around 100,000 hectares and will allow native animals that have been pushed to the brink of extinction by the predator to be reintroduced.

Explore further: Cats kill one million birds a day in Australia

Related Stories

Cats kill one million birds a day in Australia

October 4, 2017

Feral and pet cats kill more than one million birds in Australia every day, new research showed Wednesday, with the staggering slaughter driving the decline of many species.

Addressing feral cats' diet may help protect native species

February 2, 2015

Because reducing the impacts of feral cats—domestic cats that have returned to the wild—is a priority for conservation efforts across the globe, a research team recently reviewed the animals' diet across Australia and ...

Recommended for you

Coffee-based colloids for direct solar absorption

March 22, 2019

Solar energy is one of the most promising resources to help reduce fossil fuel consumption and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions to power a sustainable future. Devices presently in use to convert solar energy into thermal ...

NASA instruments image fireball over Bering Sea

March 22, 2019

On Dec. 18, 2018, a large "fireball—the term used for exceptionally bright meteors that are visible over a wide area—exploded about 16 miles (26 kilometers) above the Bering Sea. The explosion unleashed an estimated 173 ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 25, 2018
The reason such research is important to you and your family? Those reptiles killed are now unavailable to control insects and other vermin. That infest your family's environment, spreading diseases.

Now do you care? About your fluffy pet predator and what it gets up to when you are not watching it?

And if you put that beer down for once. Got your lazy fat butt up out of your lounger. And cleaned up all the garbage and filth you strew around? Those pests presently feeding off your sloppy habits? Will go pester your neighbors.

I thought the idea of spreading the misery would bring a smile to your jowls.
not rated yet Jul 02, 2018
Cull the cats. They are just pests in this environment. Don't be sentimental. We made this problem and we have to solve it.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.