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Snowing a lot, and it's very cold, so I'm staying in my den today...
100 (pure) - 4000 (hybrid) from recent estimates
Boreoeutheria: e.g. European mole (Talpa europaea)
I should be sequenced because...: The DNA sequence of my genome is what makes me different to feral cats, but it's difficult to tell us apart without it!
Tell us more...:
Although I look like a big tabby cat, I have a very different story to pet cats, which are from a separate subspecies. The Romans brought pet cats to Britain just 2,000 years ago, but I’ve been living here since the Ice Age, thousands of years before. If you look closely, you will be able to spot some important differences between us, like my big bushy tail with dark rings around it:
What you can’t see are my genes, which are different too! One of the biggest threats to my species is losing our unique genes by inter-breeding with pet cats. I need my genome sequenced so scientists can save me from extinction!
One sentence about me...: I am known as the tiger of the Highlands because I am such a ferocious hunter.
I’m the very last native cat species in Britain. I used to live all over the country but, because of habitat loss and hunting, now you can only find me in the Scottish Highlands. There may be only 400 Scottish wildcats left, which makes me critically endangered.
Where I live depends on where I can find prey. I hunt in open areas, but like to move around under the cover of woodland or scrub. I really don’t like the deep snow we get, or getting my feet wet, if I can help it! I make dens in tree roots or rock cairns (piles of stones) to keep warm. This is where we raise our kittens, usually one litter of 3-4 every year.
I have been a symbol of the Scottish wilderness for hundreds of years. Lots of the Scottish clans have me on their crests. Caithness, in Scotland, was once called ‘Caitaibh’, or the ‘land of the cats’.
Here are some of the people trying to help save me from extinction, but lots more needs to be done before it is too late. If you want to help too, vote for me! Find out all about wildcat conservation by clicking the links below:
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Intelligent, fearless, resourceful
What's it like where you live?
Dreich (dreary, bleak) at times but often beautiful, cold and sunny in forests and mountains
What's your favourite food?
Rabbits, rats, hare and other small mammals
What's your family life like?
Males and females partner to mate early in the year but for the rest of our lives we live alone
Are you endangered or threatened by anything?
My genome is being diluted by interbreeding with 'feral' domestic cats and I'm disappearing
What's the best thing about you/interesting fact?
I'm Britain's only remaining large wild predator and I've walked this land for thousands of years
The champion of this species is...
Jo Howard-McCombe and The Scottish Wildcat Action team