Apr 25, 2020

How Fishing Cats Prionailurus viverrinus fish: Describing a felid's strategy to hunt aquatic prey

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Divyajyoti Ganguly, T. Adhya


Hunting strategies are key to carnivore survival (Krebs and Davies 2009;Kamil et al. 2012;Michalko and Pekar 2016). Fishing Cat's (Prionailurus viverrinus) persistence in the 'semi-aquatic niche' (Kitchener et al. 2010) despite felids being terrestrial carnivores in general (>95%) (Hunter 2019) suggests the evolution of a successful hunting strategy. Its morphological adaptations further suggest selection for hunting in wetlands. What energy conserving strategies did the Fishing Cat borrow from its family and how were these adapted to optimize energy gained from hunting fish, its primary prey? We attempt to answer this by analyzing 197 video footages collected opportunistically from a participatory science initiative conducted over 2.5 years. We found that the felid switches between stationary and active modes of searching for prey depending on the depth of water and the corresponding loss of body heat/energy. For example, diving in deeper waters requires the submergence of the upper portions of the body and loss of more body heat/energy. Our analysis shows that the cat spent much of its time (~52%) sitting and waiting for prey (fish) to come nearer and then took limited attempts to dive into deeper water (2.78%). We suggest th...Continue Reading

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