Scottish Wildcat Facts
- The surprising Scottish Wildcat remains a variety of wild feline that virtually no one outside of its endemic range even knows about. Such a terrible shame.
- This rather adorable feline itself actually constitutes a subspecies of the equally little-known outside of its immediate area, European wildcat.
- Sadly, like many related species, this animal also faces serious threats to its continued existence. At present, estimates place its total population at no more than 300 individuals, perhaps fewer.
- In addition to climate change and habitat loss, it also faces the added threat of interbreeding with domestic felines, given its small physical size.
Scottish Wildcat Physical Description
The Scottish Wildcat has a rather striking appearance, to be certain. Nonetheless, it ranks as a rather small species of wild feline, compared to others.
Like many animals, it displays a moderate degree of sexual dimorphism. In its case, physical size represents the most obvious example of the principle.
Adult males attain an average weight of about 16 lb (7.2 kg), while the smaller females only average a weight of about 10.3 lb (4.7 kg).
The coats have a tabby-like patterning, similar to many domestic cats, minus the white feet. The tail grows thick, with a ringed pattern.
Uniquely, and rather interestingly, the ears of this feline have the ability to rotate a full 180 degrees. This provides a decided advantage in its native environment.
Species: F. silvestris
Subspecies: F. s. grampia
Scottish Wildcat Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Currently, its habitat range only covers portions of Scotland, in Europe, hence the common name. It became extinct in the other portions of its range in the last 150 years, primarily due to human activity.
Its preferred habitat consists of areas of shrubland and woodland. However, the ongoing disappearance of such regions occasionally forces it to encroach upon human population centers.
Experts estimate its lifespan in the wild to be only 2-3 years, though it often lives as long as 15 years in captivity. In the wild, individuals frequently fall prey to diseases from feral cats and encounters with vehicles.
This gorgeous mammal generally lives in a small den. These it usually constructs beneath tree roots, or in brush piles or cairns. Litter size may be as many as 8 kittens.
Its activity may be either nocturnal or crepuscular. At these times, it hunts small prey, usually including rabbits, mice, and voles. Individual territories typically remain relatively small.