U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version

January 2006


Published in Oryx Vol 40 No 1 January 2006, pp. 95-102.


Critically Endangered Puerto Rican parrots Amazona vittata are one of the rarest birds in the world. Several exotic mammal species capable of preying on Puerto Rican parrots cohabit the Caribbean National Forest with the only wild population of these parrots. We used tracking plates, monitoring blocks and trapping to index black rats, small Indian mongooses and feral cats in parrot habitat and in public-use areas in the same habitat type. We had high trap success for black rats at all sites (42% of all sites combined), among the highest reported in the world. Rat response to monitoring (nontoxic bait) blocks was universally high, regardless of ground or tree placement. Mongooses were present at all sites, with a greater proportion of plates tracked within the forest than at public-use sites. Cats were present at all forest sites and one of the public-use sites. Presence of the three species did not appear to be linked to human disturbance. Because only 30–40 Puerto Rican parrots survive in the wild, with as few as three pairs nesting in 2002, we concluded that the abundance and pervasiveness of exotic mammalian predators poses a greater threat to the parrots than has been generally acknowledged. This is evidenced by mammalian predation during recent parrot breeding seasons, including six fledglings taken by mongooses and one nest failure from rats during 2000–2003.