Twelve feet and the odd tail are the clues to what one Kakadu National Park feral cat ate for dinner.
Scientist Danielle Stokeld is dissecting cats from the Top End in the hopes of learning whether feral felines are to blame for the steep decline in native mammals.
“You’ve got to look at the tails and look at the feet and piece together how many animals you have,” said Ms Stokeld, who has recently returned from a trip to Kakadu where she dissected three cats.
“It’s quite a bit of detective work.”
“In the end we ascertained there were four small native mammals,” Ms Stokeld said.
“Two mosaic tailed mice and two rat species.”
The Federal Government’s threatened species strategy has identified feral cats as the single biggest threat to endangered species Australia-wide.
But in the Territory, Ms Stokeld said there was limited information about feral cats.
“One of the challenges we have is that it is quite remote, but cats are incredibly cryptic,” she said.
“They are a very difficult animal to study.
“Elsewhere in Australia cats tend to be spotted a lot more often than what you hear about up here.”