Scavenging and carcass caching behavior by European wildcat (Felis silvestris)

Miha Krofel, Damjan Južnič, Maximilian L. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While scavenging has been repeatedly reported for several felid species, surprisingly little information is available on scavenging behavior of the European wildcat (Felis silvestris). To fill this knowledge gap, we used camera traps to document scavenging behavior at the 48 experimentally set deer carcasses at random locations throughout the year. We recorded European wildcats scavenging on 38% of the eight carcasses set in winter and on none set in the other parts of the year. Wildcats fed on two carcasses for extended periods (up to 22 days) with an average of 3.3 visits per day and 7.8-h interval between the visits. We recorded scavenging throughout the day, but analysis indicated a crepuscular pattern. We also recorded caching behavior on 7% of the visits (n = 105), when wildcats used leaves or snow to partly or completely cover the carcasses. Beside wildcats, 12 other vertebrate species of scavengers were recorded at the carcasses. We recorded agonistic interaction with European badger (Meles meles) and despite its smaller size, the wildcat managed to defend the carcass. The extensive feeding, frequent caching behavior and active defense from scavengers indicate that the wildcats recognized the ungulate carcasses as an important food source in winter and that scavenging could be a neglected aspect of the European wildcat ecology. We also suggest that caching behavior could be regularly used by the European wildcat when feeding on larger carcasses, but was likely previously missed due to limited research effort to record scavenging and caching behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)556-561
Number of pages6
JournalEcological Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2021


  • camera traps
  • felids
  • food caching
  • interference competition
  • scavengers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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