Sunday, 18 March 2007

Unexpected Results from Feral Cat Trapping Attempt

Recently on Ochre Arch we noticed some feral cats near the house and shearing shed, so I decided to have a go at trapping them in the interest of encouraging birdlife around the place. As a ‘lure’ to the trap I placed a rabbit that I’d shot earlier in the day inside the trap, and set it about 20 metres from the house closest to our bedroom. The theory was that when and if we did catch something we’d hear it in the trap, and I’d be able to quickly and humanely deal with whatever was caught.
It transpired that the night in question was incredibly windy and noisy. We heard nothing during the night other than the wind belting through the trees near the house. In the morning I ventured out, and was bewildered to see that the trap had been moved about 5 metres, turned end-over-end and on its side, and that that the trap door was open and the rabbit had gone. Close inspection of where the trap had been set revealed substantial scratch marks on the ground, which to me were most probably made by a fox. Whatever it was that managed to do what it did to the trap and remove the rabbit certainly deserves respect for cunning and persistence if nothing else.
The next day I was recounting the above to my mother, who explained that my father used to use milk in a bottle lid to lure feral kittens from their hides. After several days they became accustomed to the practice and could be approached and trapped. Armed with this information I decided to set the cat-trap up in the shearing shed (not accessible to foxes) with a bottle lid of milk in it. On the first night the trap was untouched. However on the second morning when I entered the shed the trap had been triggered but at first glance appeared to be empty. On close inspection I was amazed to find a large and healthy Blue-tongue Lizard near where the milk had been placed. It quickly scampered away to safety on release.
Some days later I shared the above information with a neighbour who explained that snakes love drinking milk, so it’s possible all reptiles do.

Needless to say my feral cat trapping exercise did not produce the results I’d hoped for, but most certainly added to my own knowledge, not to mention respect for the ingenuity of foxes!

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