Facts about European wildcat
This wild cat is very similar to the European cat, i.e. the common shorthair cat. It is characterized by a somewhat larger mass and therefore size. In the wild, it is difficult to tell whether the animal encountered is a purebred wildcat or a hybrid with the European cat, as these species often interbreed.
1It is a carnivorous mammal of the cat family.
There are more than 20 subspecies of the European wildcat.
2The European wildcat is found in Europe, the Caucasus and Asia Minor.
It is found in Scotland (where it has not been extirpated like the Welsh and English populations), Iberian Peninsula, France, Italy in Ukraine, Slovakia, Romania, Balkan Peninsula and northern and western Turkey.
3Wildcat inhabits mainly deciduous and mixed forests.
It stays away from agricultural areas and human settlements.
4It resembles the European shorthair cat but is more massive.
It has brindle, long fur with a dark stripe running across its back.
5Females are smaller than males.
The average adult male weighs 5 to 8 kg, while the female weighs about 3.5 kg. Weight can vary depending on the season. Body length ranges from 45 to 90 cm and the tail averages 35 cm.
6Feeds mainly on rodents, although it sometimes hunts larger prey.
Its diet includes rats, moles, hamsters, voles, forest mice, but also martens, polecats, weasels and young deer, roe deer, chamois and ground-dwelling birds.
7Usually hunts on the ground but is also a good climber.
It can watch its prey from an elevated position and will pounce as soon as it is sure the attack will be successful.
8It leads a solitary life and is territorial.
To date, researchers have not been able to gather much information about the social life of these animals. What is known for sure is that they are able to maintain residual scent and vocal contact with their nearest neighbors.
9Males tend to venture into agricultural areas in search of food, which is usually abundant there.
Females are more conservative and rarely leave forested areas. This probably has to do with the protection of offspring provided by the forest vegetation.
10The mating season begins in January and lasts until March.
Heat lasts from 1 to 6 days and gestation from 64 to 71 days (average 68).