IUCN Red List Status:

Least Concern

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Diet

Rabbits when they are readily available. They also like to eat other small mammals, such as mice and voles. Birds, invertebrates, reptiles and carrion are more unusual but possible, as is scavenging.

Habitat

Historically, Scottish wildcats lived across Britain but are now only found in the Scottish Highlands. This tends to be near open habitats, such as long pastures, rough grazing, and riparian vegetation, which are all used as hunting areas. Forestry clear-fell and new plantations can also be popular because a lack of grazing means there are more small mammals to pick off.

Fun Fact

Wildcats tend to dislike being out in open ground so will use edges of habitats, streams and roads to move around. They also prefer not to get their feet wet so will avoid crossing water unless there is a bridge.

Lifespan

Wildcats can live up to 15 years in captivity but in the wild, their life expectancy is thought to be 2-8years.

Scottish wildcats (Felis silvestris) look similar to a large tabby cat, weighing up to 8kg and measuring as long as 98cm.

However, there are some key differences. The most obvious is the thick tail that has a black blunt tip with thick black stripes.

They also have a much larger cranial capacity, shorter gut and a more angular jaw, good for crunching live prey with. Genetically, they are distinct from our domestic cats which have evolved from the Near Eastern wildcat rather than the European wildcat.

They are one of our last remaining natural predators and play an important role in a healthy ecosystem.

Population: In the wild, latest research suggests there are between 100-300 Scottish wildcats left (Kilshaw, 2014).

 

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