This experiment is part of the Cats Challenge Grant. Browse more projects

Is the Felixer cat trap safe for native carnivores?

University of Tasmania
Australia
Ecology
DOI: 10.18258/7140
Grant: Cats
$5,065
Raised of $5,000 Goal
101%
Funded on 6/19/16
Successfully Funded
  • $5,065
    pledged
  • 101%
    funded
  • Funded
    on 6/19/16

Methods

Summary

Trigger test

The Felixer device uses four laser sensors to detect animals and determine their size. These lasers are positioned in a diamond configuration, such that a cat passing side-on would block the forward-most and hind-most but not the top or bottom laser beams, which should pass above or below its body. Any other combination of lasers blocked/ not blocked would not result in the mechanism firing.

We will acquire a prototype Felixer which is not equipped with poison but can record each time the mechanism is triggered, and take photos of all animals which pass through the laser beams. The prototype will be deployed in areas of the Tasmanian midlands known to have high activity of both feral cats and spotted-tailed quolls (based on the results of Rowena's PhD study to date).

Should the results of the trial show that spotted-tailed quolls are triggering the Felixer, additional trials will be run with adjusted sensor spacing to try to distinguish between cats and quolls. The results of these trials will be compared to the previous trials to determine if the adjusted spacing is successful, and also whether this reduces the device's efficiency for targeting feral cats.

Grooming test

Feral cats and spotted-tailed quolls are currently being trapped and GPS collared as part of Rowena's PhD researching their habitat use and movement behaviour in the Tasmanian midlands. We will capitalise on this opportunity to run a trial of grooming behaviour, to test whether both species are likely to groom off poison gel if sprayed by the Felixer.

Video camera collars will be made by Hugh MacGregor, building on his previous experience building similar collars for feral cats in the Kimberley. These collars will weigh less than 70grams, and will be tested on captive quolls to ensure that they do not interfere with natural movements and climbing ability. Collars will include a VHF beacon to assist with tracking and monitoring the animals and recapturing them on subsequent days.

Cats and quolls with known home ranges and 'trappability' will be captured, collared and their flanks sprayed with (non-poisoned) gel and released at existing collaring sites in the Tasmanian midlands. They will be recaptured as soon as possible after one day to remove the collars and download the footage.

Protocols

This project has not yet shared any protocols.