January 19

16 comments

Meet Scotland’s Cutest Predator…


Hello my beautiful readers,

Scotland is rife with fauna of all kinds. Deer, boar, birds and fish are some of the most ordinary kinds of animals you can find both in the Highlands and the Lowlands. 

But, personally, I have a favorite. I know I might be biased because I do love kittens, but this species is best left alone and away from human contact. But they are adorable!

Meet the Scottish Wildcat: one of the most endangered species in Britain. The wild Scottish cat has been for nearly 9000 years a wild animal and is never really going to entirely trust humans.

Scottish wildcat (Felis silvestris grampia). Credit: Alamy. Image source.


Facts about them

Britain used to be home to many great animals: lynx, wolves, bears...wildcats. The saddest part? Only wildcats still remain, and these are critically endangered

This...kitty looks (to you and me) like any other domestic cat you might keep as a pet. It used to be distributed all over Britain equally, but due to loss of habitat and hybridization with the domestic cat, its population has declined drastically. It is now found mostly to North and East Scotland, and the woodlands of Scottish Highlands. 

Wildcats differ from domestic kitties by their larger, heavier skull and longer limb-bones. Its fur is distinctly solid-striped with a tabby patterning. It has a bushy, ringed tail that is black at the tip, blunt, and without stripes. And they only breed once a year!

They hunt mostly at night, and usually don’t form ‘colonies’. They hunt alone, mostly small rodents and rabbits, and while male territories might overlap with other males’ or females’, female territories are strictly off the limits of other females. Those mamas have to protect their young!

Scottish Wildcat shows its fangs, 2013. Image source.


Saving the Highlands Tiger


To preserve the species, many organizations have neutered and vaccinated domestic cats that roam the same Highland grounds as the wildcat. As mentioned before, the biggest problem for this species is hybridization with their domestic cousin, as well as the spread of various diseases. 

However, this effort is not without its problems. Many of the now-neutered cats were already hybrids, which make them harder to catch: they are wary of humans and have heightened skills as predators. 

Better use of the land is also a major issue that would help these wild felines. As a vast majority of Scottish lands are used as farms, another part is deforested and another populated with sheep and deer, the wildcat has little natural ground to make its den. Also, humans are playing a vital role in its extinction, as many farmers and hunters kill these predators to protect their animals, mainly rabbits and specific species of birds. 

Often referred to as Highland tigers, due to its untamable nature, this wildcat is in grave danger. I sure hope that its population can finally bounce back!

Look at this beautiful video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCiUhrxnOjI&ab_channel=BuddhaandtheWhaleProductions

Do you find them as adorable as I do?

Let me know in the comments!

Until next time…
Written by
Maddie MacKenna


Tags

Articles, Scottish Romance


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  • Maddie, I love cats and the Scottish wildcat is adorable! Thanks for the article. Love your books as well. Can’t read them fast enough! Margie

  • Yes I knew about the Wild Cat being endangered and as a Scot am concerned . I heard a group were hoping to save more of its habitat and hopefully the species will be saved as it is such a beautiful animal.

    • The government is also doing its part to preserve the species but not fast enough! Hopefully they manage to save it…

  • While I am not a cat person, I do have a soft spot for the life of animals and hate to see them go extinct, I really wish we humans could really learn how to coexists with animals without them being on the losing end. we are supposed to be the more intelligent after all

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