18.5 - 29.5 in
8.5 - 14 in
8 - 22 lb. Females Smaller
Late February to early March
63 - 69 days
1 - 8 Usually 4
Usually solitary, Nocturnal.
Small rodents such as mice,also hairs,rabbits,birds,and insects.
about 12 yrs
They are found in Scotland,Spain,Germany,Poland,and parts of southern Europe.
The Wild Cat is very adaptable and can survive in a variety of habitats.In Scotland wildcats inhabit moors and woodland but prefer hilly areas for hunting.Rocky outcrops in forests throughout Europe provide refuge for most wild cats.In southern Europe the wildcat lives among scrub brush, In central Europe it lives in coniferous (cone-bearing) forests of spruce,fir and cedar.
Wildcats feed mainly on mice an other small rodents.They also eat larger mammals and prefer to live in areas where ground-nesting birds,rabbits,and hares are common.The wildcat is also known to cath larger prey, but they may kill deer fawns that are too slow to escape.Wildcats live solitary lives and hunt alone in areas where food is scarce.
Female wildats are ready to mate in late february or early March.Groups of males howl,screech,and wail throughout the night to attract females.Once a male has established his dominance over the group,the female rolls on the ground to signal that she is ready to mate with him.Approximately six and a half weeks later the female gives birth in a nest situated among rocks or in a hollow tree.the mother defends her litter ferociously during the first few weeks of their life.The kittens open their eyes after 10 days and are quite fierce them selves,spitting,biting and scratching at intruders.The mother suckles the kittens for a month,after which they start leaving the den to play nearby.The male does not help rear the kittens.At the age of three months the young begin to accompany their mother on hunting trips.By 10 months of age the kittens are almost fully grown,but they do not breed until the next year.
Wildcats once ranged throughout Europe.But as forests were cleared to provide wood for homes and industry,their habitats were destroyed,and they were forced to move to more remote areas.the wildcat was once considered to be a pest because it preyed on groundnesting birds that were raised for private hunting.Thousands of wildcat were killed during the 1800`s and the early 1900`s to protect the grouse,partridges,and pheasants that were raised by gamekeepers on hunting estates.Because the attitude toward wildlife today is one of awareness and sensitivity the slaughter of the wildcats has completely stopped.It is now seen as an improtant member of the enviroment and is protected in many areas.
African Wildcats diverged from the other Wildcat subspecies about 131,000 years ago. Some individuals were first domesticated about 10,000 years ago in the Middle East, which are the ancestors of the domestic cat. Remains of domesticated wildcats have been included in human burials as far back as 9,500 years ago in Cyprus.
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