Diet composition of small Indian mongoose (Herpestes javanicus) varies seasonally in its native range

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Feeding habits of mammals are very important to investigate in any ecosystem and are a central topic in ecology and population biology. The current study aimed at investigating diet composition of the small Indian mongoose (Herpestes javanicus) in an agro-ecosystem of Sialkot District using a faecal analysis method. Results revealed a diverse diet of the species, comprising both animal and plant matter. Animals were consumed more heavily (58%) than plants (8%). The predominant prey species were insects, while rodents, birds, seeds and plant leaves comprised a smaller portion of the diet. The insects prey species belonged to five different orders: Odonata (dragonflies), Orthoptera (grasshoppers and mole crickets), Coleoptra (ground beetles), Dermoptera (earwigs) and Hymenoptera (family Formicidae; ants). The consumption of insects was higher during the summer season. Mammalian prey included five different rodent species: Bendicota bengalensis (lesser bandicoot rat), Nesokia indica (short-tailed mole rat), Suncus murinus (Asian musk shrew), Tatera indica (Indian gerbil) and Mus musculus (house mouse). Prey species richness was higher in the summer as was the diversity index, while the evenness index showed slightly higher values in spring and autumn compared to summer and winter. We conclude that small mammals are important prey species of the mongoose while insects are eaten regularly and in reasonably large numbers in its native range.

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References

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Figures

  • Average percent volume (%V) occurrence of different food items recovered from scats (N = 66) of the small Indian mongoose (Herpestes javanicus) inhabiting the agro-ecosystem of district Sialkot, Pakistan. Abbreviation: UIM: unidentified matter.

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  • Different food items recovered from the faecal samples of the small Indian mongoose (Herpestes javanicus) collected from site-I. (A) bone pieces; (B) feathers of birds; (C and D) insect parts; (E) seeds of Achyranthes aspera; (F) plant matter; (G) hair of rodents; (H) snail shell. This figure is published in colour in the online version.

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  • Prey species richness (white bars), diversity (black bars) and evenness (grey bars) indices of the prey species of the small Indian mongoose (Herpestes javanicus) during different seasons in the district Sialkot area, Pakistan.

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