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Photo: Northern Territory government

Cats guzzling over one million reptiles a day: study

Feral cats are raising a skink with the discovery that they’re mass reptile killers.

Researchers from the government’s Threatened Species Recovery Hub, which comprises 10 universities and the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, analysed around 10,000 cat dietary samples.

What they found shocked them. Writing in the journal Wildlife Research, they deduced that cats kill 650 million lizards and snakes each year.

Inland Australia was found to be the prime cat feeding ground. There, and across Australia, cats consumed 250 species of reptiles, including eleven threatened ones.

The researchers even identified instances of cat ‘bingeing’, where, for example, 40 lizards were found in one cat’s stomach.

One or more of these may have been the threatened great desert skink, which is partially in decline because of the cats.

The contents of a cat’s stomach. Photo: Arid Recovery

Australia’s threatened species commissioner, Dr Sally Box, called the research “sobering”. She cautioned that people should mind their pet cats, as they too are reptile eaters.

The researchers already knew that cats literally ate away at bird and mammal populations. Now, with reptiles, the cat is well and truly out of the bag.

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