Wild Big Cats – You’re watching FreeSchool! This is a countdown of ten fascinating wildcat species.
You probably already know all about lions, tigers, and even leopards, butalthough these ten felines are less famous than their cousins, that doesn’t make themany less interesting.
Number 10: The Caracal.
The caracal, sometimes called the ‘desertlynx,’ is native to Africa, parts of Asia, and India.
Its name comes from a Turkish wordmeaning ‘black ear,’ a reference to the distinctive black tufts on the back of its ears.
The largest of the small cats in Africa, caracalscan grow up to 40 lbs or 18 kg in weight and reach about 3 feet or a meter in length.
Caracalswere once used by humans in India and Iran to hunt birds, but in the wild they will huntbirds, rodents, lizards, and snakes.
They will also kill prey larger than they are,like small antelope.
Number 9: The Andean Mountain Cat.
The Andean Mountain Cat is a small wild catnative to the Andes mountains in South America.
Although they do not weigh much more thana large domestic cat at about 12 lbs or 5.
5kg, they can grow much longer, with a length ofup to 33 inches or 85 cm, not including their tail.
An Andean Mountain Cat’s tail is longand bushy, with dark rings around it.
Relatively little is known about this rareand elusive feline, but it has been classified as an endangered species due to loss of habitatand prey animals.
Number 8: The Flat-Headed Cat.
Native to a small area of southeast Asia,the flat-headed cat is most recognizable by the unusual shape of its long, flattened headand rounded ears.
It’s about the size of a housecat, with a head and body length of upto 20 inches or 50 cm and a weight of about 5 lbs or 2.
Unlike domestic cats, however,flat-headed cats have pronounced webbing between the toes of their paws that help them travelthrough wet and muddy environments.
Flat-headed cats live exclusively in lowlandtropical rainforests, where they eat mostly fish and frogs.
Due to the destruction ofthe forests where they live, flat-headed cats are endangered.
Number 7: The Margay.
The margay is a small cat native to centraland South America.
They are larger than domestic cats with a head and body length of 31 inchesor 79 cm and a weight of more than 8 lbs or 4 kg.
Margays are skillful climbers and mayspend their entire lives in the trees, catching and eating the birds and monkeys that livethere.
Although Margays are not yet endangered, theirpopulations are declining as the forests in which they live are cut down or convertedto farmland.
Number 6: The Sand Cat.
Native to north Africa and southwest Asia,the sand cat is the only cat in the world that is found mostly in true deserts.
Sandcats are well adapted to the harsh conditions: they can be found in areas very far from water,and are able to survive on the moisture that is found in their prey.
They also have speciallong hairs on their feet that help protect them when they walk on the hot sand.
Whentemperatures are hot, sand cats will retreat to burrows in the ground to keep cool.
They are fairly small, with a head and bodylength of up to 20 inches or 52 cm and weights of about 7 lbs or 3 kg, and they eat mostlyrodents, birds, reptiles, hares, and insects.
Number 5: The Serval.
The serval is a medium sized cat, reachinga head and body length of up to 36 inches or 92 cm and a weight of up to 40 lbs or 18kg.
It can be found in much of sub-Saharan Africa, mostly on the savanna and at the fringesof forests.
They are able to climb and swim, but they usually don’t.
Servals’ favorite prey are rodents, whichthey can hear moving about with their large ears, but they will also eat birds, reptiles,insects, fish and frogs.
Number 4: The Jaguarundi.
Native to central and South America, the jaguarundiis a small to medium wild cat, with head and body lengths of up to 30 inches or 77 cm andweights of up to 20 lbs or 9 kg.
Jaguarundis have an almost weasel-like appearance, withlong, slender bodies, short legs, and a small, flat head with rounded ears.
They are excellent climbers and jumpers, sometimesjumping as high as two meters off the ground to attack birds in the air, but jaguarundiswill eat almost any small animal they can catch.
Number 3: The Kodkod.
The kodkod is the smallest cat in the Americas,with a maximum weight of 5 and a half lbs or 2.
5 kg and a typical length of about 20inches or 51 cm, not including the tail.
Found only in Chile and small areas of Argentina,kodkods prefer to live in temperate rainforests where they eat birds, lizards, and rodents.
Due to logging that is shrinking their habitats,kodkod populations are declining.
Number 2: The Fishing Cat.
A medium sized cat native to south and southeastAsia, the fishing cat is about twice the size of a housecat.
Their head to body length canreach up to 31 inches or 78 cm, although their tail is somewhat short, and they can weighup to 35 lbs or 16 kg.
Fishing cats are at home in the water, and can swim a long way,even underwater.
They eat mainly fish, but will also eat snakes, amphibians, birds, insects,and rodents.
Fishing cats are endangered due to the continueddestruction of the wetlands where they live.
Number 1: The Black-Footed Cat.
Native to the southern tip of Africa, theblack-footed cat is the smallest cat in Africa and one of the smallest cats in the world.
At their maximum size, they weigh less than 5 and a half lbs or 2 and a half kg, and reacha head and body length of only 17 inches or 43 cm.
Although it is called the ‘black-footed’cat, only the pads and the underparts of their feet are black.
Black footed cats live in open savanna andsemidesert.
Unlike many other cats, they are poor climbers, choosing instead to dig burrowsto shelter from the heat.
Due to their small size, they eat mostly rodents and small birds,but will occasionally kill birds and mammals larger than themselves.
I hope you enjoyed learning about these amazingwild cats, and stay tuned for more creature countdowns from FreeSchool!.