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Sunday, 15 March 2020

The european wildcat

The European wildcat (Felis silvestris) is a wildcat species native to continental Europe, Scotland, Turkey and the Caucasus. It inhabits forests from the Iberian Peninsula, Italy, Central and Eastern Europe to the Caucasus. It has been extirpated in England and Wales.
In France and Italy, the European wildcat is predominantly nocturnal, but also active in the daytime when undisturbed by human activities.
The European wildcat's fur varies in colour from brownish to grey with paler contour hairs. It has five stripes on the forehead, which are broken up into small spots. A dark stripe behind the shoulders expands into a spinal stripe running up to the base of the tail. On the sides, it has irregular dark stripes, which break up on the hind legs, thus forming a blotched pattern. Its tail is bushy with two to three black, transverse rings and rounded at the black tip. The top of the head and the forehead bear four well-developed dark bands that split into small spots. Two short and narrow stripes are usually present in the shoulder region, in front of the dorsal band. Some individuals have a few light spots on the throat, between the forelegs, or in the inguinal region. The dorsal surface of the neck and head are the same colour as that of the trunk, but is lighter grey around the eyes, lips, cheeks, and chin. A slight ochreous shade is visible on the undersides of the flanks. A black and narrow dorsal band starts on the shoulders, and runs along the back up to the base of the tail. In some animals, the summer coat is ashen coloured. The patterns on the head and neck are as well-developed as those on the tail, though the patterns on the flanks are almost imperceptible. Guard hairs measure 7 cm (2.8 in), the tip hairs 5.5–6 cm (2.2–2.4 in), and the underfur 4.5–5.5 in (110–140 mm). Corresponding measurements in the summer are 5–6.7 cm (2.0–2.6 in), 4.5–6 cm (1.8–2.4 in), and 5.3 cm (2.1 in).
Large males in Spain reach 65 cm (26 in) in length, with a 34.5 cm (13.6 in) long tail, and weigh up to 7.5 kg (17 lb). They also have a less diffuse stripe pattern, proportionally larger teeth, and feed more often on rabbits than the wildcats north of the Douro-Ebro, which are more dependent on small rodents.
The European wildcat is on average bigger and stouter than the domestic cat, has longer fur and a shorter non-tapering bushy tail. It has striped fur and a dark dorsal band.[21] Males average a weight of 5 kg (11 lb) up to 8 kg (18 lb), and females 3.5 kg (7.7 lb). Their weight fluctuates seasonally up to 2.5 kg (5.5 lb).
European wildcats have proportionately shorter cheek tooth rows with smaller teeth, but a broader muzzle than African wildcats. Since European wildcats and domestic cats interbreed, it is difficult to distinguish wildcats and striped hybrids correctly on the basis of only morphological characteristics.
The European wildcat lives primarily in broad-leaved and mixed forests. It avoids intensively cultivated areas and settlements.

(Lat. Felis silvestris)

Sunday, 15 March 2020
created by: Marek Sarvas