Date of this Version
Biol Invasions (2015) 17:1743–1759
Selection of preferred baits to attract mongooses to traps and other control devices is paramount in the effective management and control of this invasive predatory mammal. We examined the attractiveness of selected food items as baits to free-ranging mongooses in field trials at two different habitats on the island of Hawaii. We utilized radio telemetry to calculate mongoose home range and population density estimates. We implanted microchips to remotely identify and record visitations by mongooses to the candidate baits and investigated bait visitation rates, bait attraction distances, and bait discovery times. Mongooses in this study foraged over a wide area and readily investigated the various novel food baits, with fish, beef and egg-baited stations eliciting higher first and revisits over multiple days. We radio collared 34 mongooses. Overall mean home range estimates were 21.9 and 28.8 ha and did not differ between the two study sites (F = 2.12, p = 0.156), although overall male mongooses had larger home ranges than females (F = 22.92, df = 1, p<0.0001). Extensive overlapping home ranges were recorded among individual mongooses, regardless of gender. Male mongooses were attracted from a greater distance to selected baits as compared to females (F = 15.80, df = 1, p = 0.0004) although females visited more bait stations than males at each site (F = 11.26, df = 1, p = 0.002 and F = 6.90, df = 1, p = 0.017).Baits were usually discovered within 24–30 h of exposure. Based on time to first bait discovery, no differences were found among percent of food stations visited among bait types at either site (F = 0.93, df = 4, p = 0.463 and F = 0.40, df = 3, p = 0.756). The results of this study provide insights on mongoose foraging ecology in Hawaii and the attractiveness of food baits used in developing effective control strategies in detecting and trapping mongooses in newly established areas as well as reducing or eradicating populations in native species habitat impacted by mongooses.