Series: Records of the Zoological Survey of India Occasional Papers Volume: 294
44 pages, illustrations
Contributions on owl pellet analysis and identification of small mammals on the basis of key bone pieces collected from the pellets have been made by various workers. In India, most of the work has been concentrated on feeding habit, prey frequency, occurrence and prey biomass of different owl species. Little attention has been given to the detailed aspects of taxonomic identification of prey species. The present study reports the identification of 19 small mammal species under three different orders (Insectivora, Chiroptera and Rodentia), on the basis of composition of key characters present in the skull and mandible pieces of small mammals found in owl / owlet pellet material collected from Maharashtra State. An attempt has been made here to give a dichotomous key to identify these species from the skull and mandible material alone, obtained from the pellets with photographs of these key bones. Literature reveals that no such type of key (with photographs showing key characters) is available for identification of small mammals species found in owl / owlet pellets from Maharashtra State as well as other parts of India. Species discussed here also occur in other parts of India. Therefore, the present study will help in identifying the small mammal species from owl pellet material obtained from other parts of India too.
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