Hybridisation occurs between seperate species and generally results in infertile offspring. This is often because the number of chromosomes is different and cannot be correctly distributed to the sperm and eggs. The best known hybrid is probably the mule, which is the cross between a donkey and an ass.
Hybridisation occurs rarely in the wild but is much more frequent in captivity where animals of different species may be forced together in crapmed accomodation.
Lions and tigers have hybridised in captivity. The offspring are known as ligers where the male is a lion and the female a tiger, and tigons where the reverse is the case. The offspring of these matings are infertile.
The leopard has been crossed successfully with the lion in captivity, resulting in the hybrid known as the "leopons".
In the USA, there have been reports of hybridisation between bobcats and domestic cats.
The wildcat and the domestic cat are members of the same species and their offspring are fertile. Therefore, strictly speaking, "hybridisation" and "hybrids" are an inappropriate terms and should be replaced by "interbreeding" and "cross breeds".
The Kellas Cat, a melanistic wild living Scottish cat, is believed by some to be an introgressive cross between the Scottish wildcat and feral cats. Some believe these cats to be behind many of the 'black panther' sightings in Scotland.
|Return to index||Return to Scottish Big Cats||Return to Wild Cats|