According to the findings of a new study that was published on Monday, feral cats are responsible for the killing of over one million reptiles on a daily basis in Australia. The study emphasizes the threat to various reptilian species in response to this uninhibited slaughtering. Cats were introduced to the Australian continent almost two centuries ago by European settlers and since then, entire populations of specific species of animals in Australia have become extinct. Efforts for sterilization or culling of cats have been in vain to inhibit the radical expansion of the population of feral cats.
The findings of the new research study were obtained from a review of 10,000 dietary samples of cats obtained from environmental scientists throughout Australia. The research findings imply that on an overall basis, almost 650 million snakes and lizards fall prey to pet and feral cats every year. According to the lead researcher in the study, John Woinarski from the Charles Darwin University, one feral cat kills 225 reptiles annually on an average. He added that feral cats in Australia consume more reptiles as compared to Europe and the United States. Woinarski also informed that some cat species consume profoundly higher numbers of reptiles with examples of certain cats consuming up to 40 individual lizards.
The study was published in the ‘Wildlife Research’ journal and highlighted the fact that cats were responsible for the killing of 250 different species of reptiles such as geckos, desert skinks and bearded dragons among which 11 are accounted as threatened species. The population of feral cats in Australia is estimated in millions and they are also considered as the prime convicts in the large-scale mammal extinction observed in Australia. The same team of researchers found last year that cats were responsible for the killing of more than one million birds in Australia on a daily basis which also included threatened species such as the squatter pigeon, the night parrot, and the spotted quail-thrush.