October 31st 2002
Pets Not Pests
The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Rangers on MI have been receiving many phone calls from concerned residents, regarding free ranging domestic animals and birds.
Many animals, which are commonly kept as domestic pets or stock, have the potential to become pests if allowed to establish wild populations in residential or natural areas.
Recent reports include free ranging peacocks, guinea fowl, guinea pigs, pet rats, feral cats, and even a large white rabbit. The report of the rabbit came from a reliable source, and we have been assured it wasn't wearing a waistcoat and pocket watch!
Rats and guinea pigs are two introduced species which are commonly kept as pets.
While it is legal to keep these animals, subject to local government regulations, it does not take away the responsibility of the individual to practice responsible pet ownership.
Both of these are gnawing animals and an appropriate cage is required to prevent escape. This provides protection to the environment from the possible impact of escaped pets becoming pests, and also protects the animal from outside predators.
All varieties of rabbits, including domestic breeds are declared pest animals throughout Queensland under the Rural Lands Protection Act 1985. It is an offence under this act to keep any form of rabbit as a pet.
Guinea fowl are a gregarious bird that prefers to congregate in flocks. These are insectivorous feeders but will eat a wide variety of other food as well. Feral populations of these birds compete with native birds and animals for food, and can displace native species from their habitats.
Cats are the most widespread pest in Australia, occupying almost every environment. Some are domestic while many more are ferals, not relying on human contact. Both types are hunters.
An average feral cat weighs 4kg (larger than a domestic cat). It needs to eat 5-8 percent of its body weight daily, the equivalent of 10 small animals per day or 3 600 per year.
If only 1 000 of these victims were native animals, it is possible that 12 feral cats kill an appalling 12 000 native animals a year.
Domestic cats take their toll as well. Surveys have shown that the average well-fed cat brings home 30 animals a year.
They also compete directly with native carnivores for food and dens and transmit diseases, such as toxoplasmosis, which is generally fatal to marsupials.
Responsible cat ownership is one way to reduce the cat problem, following are some points to follow;
1.Keep cats indoors from dusk until dawn, when hunting behaviour is most prolific.
2.Limit the number of cats per household.
3.Desex your cat
4.Feed your cat in the morning and once during the day before it comes inside. This will prevent cats hunting due to hunger, and cats are generally more lazy after a feed.
5.Attach two or more bells to their collar to provide a warning to potential victims.
6.Never dump cats in the bush.
Let's keep Magnetic Island free from pests by being responsible pet owners.For more information on requirements for pet ownership on Magnetic Island, refer to the Magnetic Island Cat Management Strategy or ring the Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service on (07) 47 785 378.