What does the European wildcat eat?

There have been many reports that this small wild cat species is primarily a rodent catcher. They do also feed on larger animals such as young deer, rabbits and hares. To add some detail: in the Carpathian mountains wildcats mainly eat yellow-necked mice, red-backed voles and bank voles. In the Prut swap they mainly feed on water voles. The Prut swamp is in Eastern Europe. They also feed, in that area, on Norway rats, muskrats and birds such as warblers, white-eyed potchards and coots.

European wildcat
European wildcat. Photo: PoC.
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The Scottish wildcat is also a European wildcat and in Scotland they prey on rabbits and to a lesser extent on shrews and birds. In 92% of 546 scat samples there were lagomorph remains (hares and rabbits). This cat species preys heavily on young rabbits when they are available in the summer and spring. In winter, the reports indicated that the rabbits were more vulnerable because of myxomatosis resulting in 22% of the remains in the scats indicating that the rabbits were suffering from myxomatosis. This, it is presumed, made them more vulnerable to predation by the European wildcat.

Scottish Wildcat
Scottish Wildcat – Photo by Peter G Trimming
European wildcat range

European wildcat range
Indicating some of the distribution of the European wildcat

dicating some of the distribution of the European wildcat

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The European wildcat is adaptable and they eat a wide range of foods such as insects, frogs, fruit, grass, fish, martens, polecats, weasels, roe deer fawns and young chamois. When they live close to human settlements they can prey upon poultry.

If you would like full references upon which I relied for this article then please leave a comment and ask me. There are numerous and I don’t want to provide them unless they are essential for a reader. The umbrella reference is The Wild Cats Of The World by Mel and Fiona Sunquist.

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