Sunday, September 30, 2012

European Wildcat

The European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris) is a subspecies of the wildcat that inhabits forests of Western, Central, Eastern and Southern Europe, as well as Scotland, Turkey and the Caucasus Mountains; it has been extirpated from Scandinavia, England, and Wales. Some authorities restrict F. s. silvestris to populations of the European mainland, in which case populations of Scotland, Mediterranean islands, Turkey and Caucasus are regarded as separate subspecies.

The physical appearance of the European wildcat is much bulkier than that of the African wildcat and the domestic cat, although its weight is similar to the average housecat, as males of the species weigh an average of 5 kg (11 lb) and females 3.5 kg (7.7 lb), with strong seasonal weight fluctuations of up to 2.5 kg. The wildcat's thick fur, size and non-tapered tail are its distinguishing traits; it normally would not be mistaken for the domestic cat, although in practice, it is less clear whether the two are frequently correctly distinguished, as one study showed an error rate of 39%. Predominantly nocturnal, the wildcat is active in the daytime in the absence of human disturbance.

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