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4 August 2022 Diet of a Generalist Mammalian Mesocarnivore in an Urban Matrix
Jarryd P Streicher, Melanie B Streicher, Tharmalingam Ramesh, Colleen T Downs
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Anthropogenic habitat conversion through urban sprawl is driving mesocarnivores to modify their behaviour and ecology. Thorough knowledge of their feeding ecology is fundamental in understanding the pressures imposed on mesocarnivores by urbanisation. The diet of the water mongoose Atilax paludinosus has been studied in natural habitats of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. However, its urban conspecifics have been mostly overlooked. We used scat analysis to investigate the feeding ecology of water mongooses in the urban greenspace matrix of the Upper Highway Area of eThekwini, KwaZulu-Natal Province. We analysed dietary intake trends using relative percentage of occurrence, based on 105 scat samples collected in 2018–2019. Urban water mongooses opportunistically consumed a wide array of prey items. Their diet was dominated by three main categories: crustaceans 35.9%, rodents 19.6%, and invertebrates 18.4%. Seasonal variation was only detected for crustaceans and rodents. We found chicken bones, plastic particulates and cigarette butts in the scat samples. This indicated that water mongooses in an urban landscape were supplementing their diet by foraging on anthropogenic waste. Our study highlights the generalist and flexible feeding habits of water mongooses in an urban matrix.

Copyright © Zoological Society of Southern Africa
Jarryd P Streicher, Melanie B Streicher, Tharmalingam Ramesh, and Colleen T Downs "Diet of a Generalist Mammalian Mesocarnivore in an Urban Matrix," African Zoology 57(2), 126-132, (4 August 2022).
Received: 27 July 2021; Accepted: 31 May 2022; Published: 4 August 2022
Atilax paludinosus
Feeding habits
generalist species
scat analysis
South Africa
urban landscape
water mongoose
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