Categories: predation

Do feral cats eat snakes?

Yes, feral cats do eat snakes, even venomous species, but it depends where the feral cat lives as this determines whether there are snakes to be eaten. Certainly in Australia there are plenty of snakes, some of which are venomous. As reported by phys.org, a study from Murdoch University in Australia revealed the prey items that feral cats in that country fed on.

Feral cats of Australia feed on geckos and many other reptiles including venomous snakes. Photo: Murdoch University.

You may realise that in Australia the authorities consistently try to eradicate feral cats because the argue that the endanger native species. For this reason the researchers in the study were able to collect a sample of 568 euthanised feral and stray cats because they posed a risk to native wildlife. This presented an opportunity to find out what was inside their stomachs. Comment: I hope that they were euthanised as stated because a lot of the feral cats of Australia are poisoned or shot i.e. killed inhumanely.

Their dissections found that the cats had consumed 23 species of reptiles (reptiles are also very common in Australia). They included monitors, dragons, geckos, skinks and snakes. Surprisingly (to me) the researchers found that six cats had eaten venomous snakes.

Even small and young feral cats had been active hunters taking large prey species. They sometimes consumed dangerous prey and there would have been a tough battle to kill these prey items.

They also found that native mammal species such as juvenile rock wallabies, possums and quendas were taken. Also sometimes birds were killed and at least seven parrot species were identified. Many of them were large ground-foraging species such as the Australian ringneck parrot.

The researchers found that the older cats often took the largest prey. Feral cats between the ages of 4 to 12 months (of which there were 155) ate monitor lizards, parrots, black rats, bushtail possums and one had eaten a highly venomous Western brown snake. They require a lot of skill to capture and kill.

A small wild cat species, a similar size to domestic cats, is the sand cat and this particular little charmer is an excellent snake catcher and killer (they are not found in Australia but Africa, Saudi peninsula and east of the Black Sea). It is the cat’s incredibly quick reflexes and inherent athletic ability which allows them to subdue and kill fast moving and deadly venomous snakes with confidence.

SOME MORE ON SNAKES:

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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