Food habits of ocelots and potential for competition with bobcats in Southern Texas

Susan D. Booth-Binczik, Robert D. Bradley, Cody W. Thompson, Louis C. Bender, Jerry W. Huntley, Johanna A. Harvey, Linda L. Laack, Jody L. Mays

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Abstract

Recovery efforts for the endangered ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) would be aided by knowledge of its feeding ecology in the affected region. We analyzed scat of ocelots and bobcats (Lynx rufus) from southern Texas. As has been found for most other populations of ocelots, rodents were the primary prey, but the principal species of rodent, the Mexican spiny pocket mouse (Liomys irroratus), is smaller than the principal prey reported for other populations of ocelots. Lagomorphs were more common prey than has been reported in other studies of ocelots, and birds more common prey than in all but one previous study. The diet of bobcats appeared similar overall to the diet of ocelots, but lagomorphs occurred in a significantly higher proportion of scats from bobcats. The data suggest that bobcats also preyed more heavily on the largest rodents and less on the medium-sized rodents than ocelots did. There was no clear division by type of habitat; both felids preyed approximately equally on species that are found primarily in grassland and those that are found in thornscrub. Near the United States-Mexico border, where the ranges of these felids overlap, there is the potential for substantial competition for resources between the two species. An important component of efforts to restore the population of ocelots in this region, therefore, will be a thorough investigation of this possibility. Studies of the dietary differences when both or only one of the felid species is present in an area, use of foraging habitat by both species, and the relationship between densities of prey and felids would allow the likelihood of negative impacts of competition to be fully evaluated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-410
Number of pages8
JournalSouthwestern Naturalist
Volume58
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2013

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    Booth-Binczik, S. D., Bradley, R. D., Thompson, C. W., Bender, L. C., Huntley, J. W., Harvey, J. A., Laack, L. L., & Mays, J. L. (2013). Food habits of ocelots and potential for competition with bobcats in Southern Texas. Southwestern Naturalist, 58(4), 403-410. https://doi.org/10.1894/0038-4909-58.4.403