Wildcat. What does it look like and where does it occur?
The wildcat is a species of predatory mammal from the felidae family. It is extremely difficult to meet him because he shuns people.Visually, the wildcat is very similar to the domestic cat, but when you look closely, you can easily see the differences. What does a wildcat look like, what is it characterized by and where does it occur? Does the wildcat meow, like its domesticated cousin?
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1. Wildcat: what is this animal?
The wildcat was first described in 1758 by the Swedish physician and naturalist Charles Linnaeus based on the appearance of a domestic cat. The current name was given to it by the German naturalist, Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber, who observed a wildcat in his country.
The wildcat is a subspecies of the wild cat. It lives in a few European forests and wooded areas of the Caucasus and Turkey. We will not find him in Scandinavia, England and Scotland and he was exterminated.
The wildcat, next to the lynx, is another representative of wild cats in Poland. It looks like a large domestic cat. His fur is a great camouflage for him, which makes it very difficult to spot him in the wild.
This is also related to its caution - it must be constantly vigilant not to become a victim of other predators. The wildcat's greatest enemy, however, is man, who often irretrievably destroys the environment of his occurrence.
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2. What does the wildcat look like?
The female wildcat reaches an average of about 3.5 kg of weight. The males are heavier - their weight is about 5 kg. The body length is 40 to 90 cm, similar to that of domestic cats.
The color of the wildcat is dull with black stripes, the irises of the eyes are in various shades of blue or green, the pupils are long and vertical. The ears are pointed, similarly to the lynx, with small fringes.
The fur of the wildcat is quite long and fluffy. A fine, dark line stretches from head to tail; on her head she has four stripes on both sides of her face. The pads of the feet are black.
The wildcat has a characteristic, fluffy tail which definitely distinguishes it from other felids.
The height of the wildcat at the withers is 25 to 35 cm.
When the wildcat is enraged, it lays its ears flat on its head, opens its red mouth wide, snorts, bristles and arches its back, giving the impression that it has become more powerful.
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3. What does the wildcat eat?
The wildcat's food is small mammals, birds, frogs, rodents, small deer, deer, lambs, rodents, sometimes insects.
4. Characteristics of the wildcat
The wildcat is a nocturnal animal, and during the day it is active only where there is no human interference. He is a carnivore. Loner, the heat period is the only time when this animal mates. The mating season is at the turn of February and March.
The pregnancy of the female wildcat lasts from 65 to 69 days, and the litter size is from 1 to 7 young. Females mature at the age of 10 months, males a year later. They usually establish their nests in burrows, dumps of branches, large hollows. The young are fed with mother's milk for 6-7 weeks.
They reach sexual maturity in the 10-12th month of life, the average life span of a wildcat in captivity is from 12 to 15 years.
Male territories are larger than female territories, ranging from several hundred meters to even several square kilometers. They do not overlap and have clear boundaries.
The wildcat, although often inhabiting forests, likes loose, young stands. It prefers forests with abundant undergrowth, varied - where it is easier for him to find food and shelter. It hunts mainly in forest clearings, in river valleys, in meadows and on the edges of forests.
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Avoids people. If it appears near human clusters, it is only because of the presence of rodents. It travels from 4 to 12 kilometers a day in search of food.
Interestingly, the wildcat often cleans, purrs and meows like a domestic cat, although the sounds it makes are slightly deeper and lower (it resembles munching).
5. Is the wildcat under protection?
This animal is under species protection in Poland and other European countries. It is very rare, mainly in the Carpathians and Podkarpacie, in the amount of about 200.