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Scottish Wildcat Facts | Scotland Wildlife Guide

The Scottish wildcat (Felis silvestris) is the United Kingdom's only native feline and rarest mammal. This elusive and territorial cat has been dubbed the 'Highland tiger'.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Scottish wildcats have thick tabby coats with distinctive stripes and bushy, black-ringed tails. While they look remarkably like domestic house cats, Scottish wildcats are stockier, weighing up to 17 pounds and measuring as long as 38 inches.

HABITAT

Found in moorlands, woodlands and at the edge of mountains, the range of this rare cat is now limited to northern and eastern Scotland.

FEEDING HABITS & REPRODUCTION

Scottish wildcats primarily hunt European rabbits and field voles and are most active at dawn and dusk. They make their dens in dense scrub, rocky boulders, tree hollows and uninhabited fox earths, badger setts or rabbit burrows. In the wild, these cats mate between January and March, and females give birth to litters ranging in size from one to eight kittens.

THREATS & CONSERVATION

Scottish wildcats are listed as Critically Endangered by the UK. They face many obstacles, including habitat loss and disease, but their most significant threat is hybridization with domestic cats. Natural Habitat Adventure's trip to Scotland's Wild Highlands and Islands takes travelers to the Aigas Field Center to see these muscular wildcats and learn more about the conservation work being done to save them. The breeding project at Aigas is part of a national effort to reintroduce wildcats to Scotland.
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