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Diet of free-ranging cats and dogs in a suburban and rural environment, south-eastern Brazil

Authors

  • C. B. Campos,

    1. Animal Ecology Lab, Biological Sciences Department, ‘Luiz de Queiroz’ College of Agriculture (ESALQ), University of São Paulo (USP), Piracicaba, SP, Brazil
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  • C. F. Esteves,

    1. Animal Ecology Lab, Biological Sciences Department, ‘Luiz de Queiroz’ College of Agriculture (ESALQ), University of São Paulo (USP), Piracicaba, SP, Brazil
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  • K. M. P. M. B. Ferraz,

    1. Animal Ecology Lab, Biological Sciences Department, ‘Luiz de Queiroz’ College of Agriculture (ESALQ), University of São Paulo (USP), Piracicaba, SP, Brazil
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  • P. G. Crawshaw Jr.,

    1. Animal Ecology Lab, Biological Sciences Department, ‘Luiz de Queiroz’ College of Agriculture (ESALQ), University of São Paulo (USP), Piracicaba, SP, Brazil
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  • L. M. Verdade

    1. Animal Ecology Lab, Biological Sciences Department, ‘Luiz de Queiroz’ College of Agriculture (ESALQ), University of São Paulo (USP), Piracicaba, SP, Brazil
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Correspondence
Claudia Bueno de Campos, Animal Ecology Lab, Biological Sciences Department, ‘Luiz de Queiroz’ College of Agriculture (ESALQ), University of São Paulo (USP), Av. Padua Dias 11, PO Box 09, Piracicaba, SP 13418-900, Brazil.
Email: cbcampos@esalq.usp.br

Abstract

In spite of the worldwide occurrence of domestic cats and dogs, and their close relationship with humans, the number of published papers on free-ranging cats Felis catus and dogs Canis familiaris, is small. The diet of both species was estimated in a suburban and rural environment in July 2002 and January 2003. Visual observations and scat collection of both species were accomplished along a 10 km transect line in the Campus ‘Luiz de Queiroz’, University of São Paulo, Piracicaba, south-eastern Brazil. The diet of both species was determined by analysis of sterilized, washed, dried and sorted scats. Estimated abundances of free-ranging cats and dogs in the sampled area were 81 (±4.32) and 42 (±2.96), respectively. Cats and dogs were more abundant in the suburban than in the rural environment (t=3.78, P<0.001, N=55; t=8.38, P<0.001, N=55, respectively) and cats were more abundant than dogs in the suburban environment (t=6.76, P<0.001, N=55), even though there was no significant difference between the abundance of both species in the rural environment (t=0.82, P=0.46, N=55). Invertebrates were the most commonly consumed item by both species, followed by mammals (cats: 63.24 and 20.51%; dogs: 57.05 and 25.15%, respectively). Niche breadth was 0.4892 for cats and 0.4463 for dogs. Niche overlap was almost complete (0.97108). The consumption of mammals was estimated to be between 16.76 and 25.42 kg  individual−1year−1 for dogs and between 2.01 and 2.9 kg individual−1year−1 for cats. These data might be useful to establish a management program to minimize the predation pressure of free-ranging cats and dogs on wildlife.

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