Profile by Phil Crosby
|Scottish wildcat Filis silvestris grampia|
Brude, Allan Paul's year-old tom kitten. He totally conforms to what a 'good' wildcat should look like, and has the anti-social temperament to match.
|African wildcat, Felis silvestris lybica|
Originally thought to be a separate species, the African wildcat is believed to be the ancestor of the domestic cat.
The wildcat is the UK's only surviving native feline species.
Although the domestic cat is originally descended from Felis silvestris lybica, interbreeding over many generations means that the wildcat is also one of the ancestors of our pet cats.
Wildcats live for up to 12 years.
Head and body length: 50-70 cm, Tail length: 25-40 cm, Shoulder height: 25-25 cm, Average weight: males: 5 kg, females: 3.5 kg.
These cats look very much like a larger version of a domestic tabby cat, which was once thought to have derived from the wildcat. They are covered in dark brown stripes and possess a thick tail with a blunt end. The tail is banded with dark rings. There is a degree of variation in coat colour, marking and the length of the fur:- in northern Europe and the USSR the coat can be long and thick but it tends to be shorter in Asia. The fur is a grey/brown colour and they have a creamy underside.
Wildcats range form Western Europe to India.
In Europe they mostly inhabit coniferous and deciduous forest, but in Africa and Asia they inhabit a variety of different habitat types such as scrub, grassland and agricultural land.
Wildcats mainly feed on rodents, but also hunt other mammals up to the size of hares and fawns, as well as birds, lizards, frogs and fish. They sometimes scavenge and cache prey to return to later.
Wildcats are nocturnal or crepuscular (active during dawn and dusk). As is the case with all the smaller cats, wildcats cannot roar, but they do use a variety of other sounds to communicate including growling, mewing, purring and hissing. Wildcats are solitary and both males and females maintain territories. Males overlap ranges with females but females will not overlap ranges with other females.
Wildcats rely on small prey items so they need to hunt regularly throughout the day to get enough food.
For more information
Visit Allan Paul's website Caring for the Scottish Wildcat.
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