More

    A Cat Who Wiped Out An Entire Bird Species

    Related Articles

    Overview

    There was a cat named Tibbles who was owned by a lighthouse keeper. The cat became infamous as the only animal to have wiped out an entire species by itself. The bird species in question was the Stephens Island wren. Because there were originally no predators in that part of the world where it evolved, the little bird lost the ability to fly.

    When South Pacific islanders arrived, they brought rats on their ships. The rats quickly invaded the island. The wrens, completely helpless against the sudden attack of the ruthless predator, were quickly exterminated. Their last rat‑free refuge was Stephens Island, a one‑square‑mile tiny spit of rock off New Zealand’s coast.

    100 Cats Who Changed Civilization: History’s Most Influential Felines

    When a lighthouse was established there, its keeper brought along his cat, Tibbles. Tibbles got straight to work, attacking the little wrens wherever he found them, hauling them by a dozen back to the lighthouse. Lyall kept several, which found their way to ornithologists. In 1895 the little animal was given the Latin name Xenicus lyallii, and soon afterwards it was declared extinct.

    The ecological destruction started by a pack of rats was completed by a lone cat. It never occurred to the lighthouse keeper, or anyone else, that given the uniquely fragile nature of the Stephens Island animal world, it might have been a good idea to keep Tibbles indoors.

    Video Credits: SciShow

    References:

    1. 100 Cats Who Changed Civilization by Sam Stall

    Categories

    Other Topics

    California Red Scale

    California Red Scale (Aonidiella aurantii), also called red scale, red-orange scale, and Cochinilla Roja Australiana, is a major pest of citrus which...

    Ariege Pointer (Braque d’Ariege)

    History & Overview The Ariege Pointer, also called Ariege Pointing Dog and known in its native country as...

    Staffordshire Bull Terrier

    History & Overview The Staffordshire Bull Terrier, also known as Staffy, is a smooth-coated, well-balanced dog. Muscular, active...

    Black-spotted Casque-headed Tree Frog (Trachycephalus nigromaculatus)

    Overview The Black-spotted Casque-headed Treefrog (Trachycephalus nigromaculatus) occurs in coastal areas of southern Brazil, but also in forests...

    Chinese Crested Dog

    History & Overview The Chinese Crested Dog is known for its most unusual appearance. It comes in two...