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Tiger, Ranthambore Tiger Reserve

Jungle Cat

Jungle CatThis cat, contrary to its name, is found in a variety of habitats but typically is not a frequenter of "jungles". Like the African wildcats and domestic cats, the Jungle Cat has been mummified and placed in tombs in Ancient Egypt.

Zoological name: Felis chaus

Species: Considerably larger than the African wildcat, the ancestor of the domestic cats, the jungle cat was trained for hunting wildfowl in Ancient Egypt. Both species were mummified and entombed.
The anterior upper premolar is distinctly developed.
There are nine recognised subspecies:
- F. c. chaus Turkestan to Iran and Baluchistan
- F. c. affinis Kashmir to Sikkim, Yunnan and Indo-China
- F. c. fulvidina Thailand and Burma
- F. c. furax Southern Syria and Iraq
- F. c. kelaarti Sri Lanka
- F. c. kutas Bengal to the Rann of Kutch
- F. c. nilotica Egypt
- F. c. oxiana Russia
- F. c. prateri Sind, west India

Presence on the planet: Widely distributed from Lower Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Asia Minor to Transcaucasia and north along the west coast of the Caspian sea to the lower reaches of the Volga and east through Turkmenistan, Tadzhikistan, and Kazakhstan to Chinese Turkestan, Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Nepal and south through the Indian subcontinent to Sri Lanka, and Burma, Thailand, Indo-China and Yunnan

Habitat: The species inhabits a greater range of habitats which, as well as marsh and swampland on forest margins, also includes tropical deciduous and evergreen forest. However, the jungle cat is not found in the denser tropical rain forests as its name might suggest. The jungle cat is not a particularly shy creature and can be often found close to human habitation, hunting in crop fields and plantations for small rodents. In India, it has been reported to inhabit disused buildings on the edge of human settlements.

Physical appearance: Similar in build to the Serval, the Jungle cat has long legs and a slender body. Their fur is sandy-brown, reddish or gray, and is unpatterned except for some brown striping on the legs. The ears are tall and rounded and are reddish with small lynx-like tufts on the tips. The tail is short, ringed faintly, and has a black tip. Melanistic animals have been seen. Adults weigh between 9-28 pounds, reach heights of 14-16 inches, and lengths of 28-48 inches. Like kittens of lions and cougars, which are born with spotting, these kittens are born with stripes for safe concealment, which they lose as they mature.

Diet: Jungle cats prey primarily upon small mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. They will hunt subterranean bandicoot rats. In Uzbekistan they seem to rely more on birds in winter and more on reptiles and insects in summer. They are known to kill porcupines and will readily take fish, frogs and snakes. They are potential predators on game birds, domestic poultry and chital fawns. Tiger kills will also be scavenged. In addition, they have been reported to eat the fruits of the Russian olive in Tadzhikistan.

Jungle CatReproduction & Offspring: The reproductive season varies regionally and mating is often accompanied by distinctive, bark like vocalisations from the male. The litter size is generally large, usually consisting of 3 -6 young and are born after a gestation period of approximately 65 days. The kittens are quite large at birth (136g) and have a daily weight gain of approximately 22g per day. Jungle cat kittens are weaned at about 15 weeks and are independent at approximately 8 - 10 months, they reach sexual maturity at around 18 months.

Conservation status: The greatest threat facing this cat is reclamation and destruction of natural wetlands. Also, they are killed by farmers because of their taste for domestic poultry, and sportsmen dont like them because their prey base is the sportsmans game species.

Status: CITES: Appendix II. IUCN: Not listed.

Life span: 15 years
Mummified in the tombs of Egypt!
These cats share the distinction with African wildcats Felis silvestris and domestic cats Felis catus of having been mummified and placed in tombs in ancient Egypt. They are also depicted hunting small birds and mammals in Egyptian wall paintings. There has been some speculation that jungle cats may have been involved in the ancestry of the domestic cat, but the bodies found in Egyptian tombs offer too little evidence to prove this one way or the other.

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