Sex-driven differences in Egyptian mongoose's (Herpestes ichneumon) diet in its northwestern European range

Luis M. Rosalino*, Maria Joao Ferreira Dos Santos, Iris Pereira, Margarida Santos-Reis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Sexual dimorphism in carnivores can result from, or induce, variations in diet and foraging behaviour between individuals of different sexes. Sex-driven behavioural changes in feeding habits may also result in a reduction in intraspecific competition for resources, avoiding dietary overlap by concentrating on different prey sizes/types. We therefore evaluated the variation in feeding habits of both males and females of an invasive and range expanding southern European carnivore, the Egyptian mongoose (Herpestes ichneumon), through gut content analysis of road or predator-control killed animals. The analysis of 59 gut samples, collected in Portugal, revealed that northwestern populations of mongooses prey mostly upon mammals [especially lagomorphs, percentage of biomass (PB) = 44%], reptiles (PB = 28%) and arthropods (PB = 2% but percentage of occurrence = 35%). However, females seem to focus mainly on reptiles (PB = 51%) and mammals (PB = 38%), whilst males consume mostly mammals (PB = 75%). The results suggest that this variation maybe a result of sexual dimorphism (since some variation is documented in a few Egyptian mongoose's skull measures, namely condylobasal length and canine diameter), with males shifting their diets to prey from which they can obtain more energy. Females seem to be focused on predating lighter animals, probably females or juveniles, a fact that has important game management implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-299
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Wildlife Research
Volume55
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009

Keywords

  • Feeding habits
  • Management implications
  • Portugal
  • STOATS MUSTELA-ERMINEA
  • BADGER MELES-MELES
  • FOX VULPES-VULPES
  • SOUTHWESTERN SPAIN
  • FORAGING BEHAVIOR
  • DIMORPHISM
  • CARNIVORE
  • HABITS
  • OTTERS
  • SIZE

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