Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Predation of invasive raccoon (Procyon lotor) on hibernating bats in the Nietoperek reserve in Poland.

Abstract

The raccoon Procyon lotor is an invasive species inhabiting Europe and its impact on local populations, particularly on endangered species, is not well known. The aim of the study was to determine whether raccoons pose a threat to bats wintering in the Nietoperek nature reserve, one of the largest hibernation sites in Central Europe. In the winter of 2016-2017, 67 raccoon scats were collected in one of the main underground corridors in the reserve. It was confirmed, with the use of molecular methods, that the scats belonged to raccoons. Raccoon prey was identified based on the features of skulls, jaws or hair found in the scats. Analysis of the determinable remains indicates that bats (including Daubenton's bat/Natterer's bat/Brandt's bat M. daubentonii/nattereri/brandtii, Natterer's bat Myotis nattereri, greater mouse-eared bat Myotis myotis, brown long-eared bat Plecotus auritus) made up the largest percentage of raccoon diet (96%). Remains of other mammal species, lizards Lacerta spp., plant materials and anthropogenic food were also identified in raccoon scats. The results of the research indicate that predation by raccoons can constitute a significant factor in the increasing mortality of bats wintering in Nietoperek.