What is a Scottish wildcat?
Wildcats in Scotland are a population of the European wildcat, which are found on continental Europe as well as Turkey and the Caucasus, and Scottish wildcats are thought to have been separated for about 7000 to 9000 years.
Where are Scottish wildcats found?
Their distribution used to cover much of Scotland, England and Wales but due to persecution it was extirpated from England and Wales in the 20th Century. Today they can be found in many areas of Scotland including the Cairngorms.
Scottish wildcat stalking along a tree trunk. © davemhuntphotography/Getty.
Why are the Scottish wildcats endangered?
Scottish wildcats were hunted to near extinction reducing their numbers drastically, but their main threat comes from their close relatives, the domestic cat. Interbreeding with their domestic cousins has produced hybrids which are not true wildcats and means that their numbers continue to decrease.
Scottish wildcat at the British Wildlife centre in Surrey. © edevansuk/Getty.
How many Scottish wildcats are there?
Estimates range from a couple of dozen to a couple of hundred with most agreeing that the smaller number is more likely.
Scottish wildcat mother and kitten playing. © Linda More/Getty.
How large are Scottish wildcats?
They are about 25 per cent bigger than domestic cats.
What do Scottish wildcats eat?
It mainly preys on rabbits, voles and mice. Any uneaten food from a kill will often be buried so the wildcats can return to it on a later day.
© Linda More/Getty.
How many babies do Scottish wildcast have?
In the wild mating season occurs between January and March and a female can have up to eight kittens, although four is more usual.
Scottish wildcat kitten. © Linda More/Getty.