Cats have been shown to mimic baby monkeys to lure prey to them. For the first time researchers have seen wild cats using aggressive mimicry to attract prey. This is the first time anyone has scientifically documented cats using this hunting method and confirms anecdotal evidence from local Amazonian residents which has told of cats (even large cats such as jaguars and pumas) using sound to lure prey to them.
Some species use aggressive mimicry as a tactic as a means of hunting for food. It involves actively luring prey towards it using a behaviour which is not natural to the animal but is natural to another species or the environment. It differs from normal mimicry we often see by being active. Normal mimicry includes animals like metalmark moths which look like their main predator the jumping spider or even harmless fish looking like their poisonous predatory fish. Aggressive mimics are not as common as defensive mimics (of which a couple have been listed). Probably the most well know aggressive mimic is the Angler fish which famously uses a luminescence ‘lure’ to attract fish the dark depths of the ocean.
Research from the Wildlife Conservation Society in this latest study has discovered cats mimicking the cries of a pied tamarin juveniles. A nearby group of pied tamarins clearly became inquisitive. As the tamarin guard investigated the noise they ignored the warning calls made by other members of the taramin group. The cat was actually unsuccessful one this occasion but the cat got closer to the prey than in usual hunts.
Dr Avecita Chicchón says, “This observation further proves the reliability of information obtained from Amazonian inhabitants,” and as director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Latin America Program he is ideally suited to make such a statement. He went on to say; “This means that accounts of jaguars and pumas using the same vocal mimicry to attract prey—but not yet recorded by scientists—also deserve investigation.”
In this study the cat in question is the Margay and it has now been conclusively shown to use aggressive mimicry in a hunting strategy to lure prey in to a better location for the final kill. This study means that more research into this needs to be completed; to see if the anecdotal evidence of big cats also using this aggressive mimicry technique to bring their prey to within striking distance proves true.
This and other studies just highlight the fact that there are still many more secrets in Amazon Rainforest yet to be found. Never before has behavioural science has a reason this good to support why we need to protect the virgin forest and ensure that these species can survive to be studied and enjoyed. This discovery of a cat species undertaking this type of intentional misleading of its prey changes peoples perspective of the predators hunting methods and certainly suggests that some of the animals found in the forest are a lot more intelligent than we may first believe.
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