The nation is in Scotland and I’ve been carrying out research on hybridization between wild cats in the Western house for the last 25 years.
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For the biggest threat to the survival of the Wildcat today is hybridization with domestic cats and also hybrid cats.
The wild cat population is now so small but eventually it will disappear through genetic integration problem of the domestic cat population and soon we’ll have none left!
One of the problems that we suffer from in the past in identifying anything is the field guide because the field guide has this perfect picture of the animal, and it’s all got to look like that.
National Museums Scotland are a major partner in Scottish Wildcat Action, a national conservation project to help bring back our native Scottish wildcats from the brink of extinction. Hear how Dr Andrew Kitchener’s research on hybridisation is helping the wildcat team to protect this endangered species. Can you tell the difference between a Scottish wildcat and an obvious hybrid? More tips on identifying wildcats at www.scottishwildcataction.org/about-wildcats
But of course there’s lots of individual variation going on now for any species there will be diagnostic characters and there will be variable characters and so it’s recognizing what is individual variation and recognizing which is diagnostic characters which the speed which the individual must have in order to identify as that particular species.
And then when you come to hybridization of course it becomes utterly confusing one of the key characters are the stripes on the nape of the neck, and if you notice they’re quite broad and it’s almost like somebody’s got their fingers, and gone like that they also have two shoulder stripes and if you notice actually one shoulder stripe here is quite prominent the other one is there.
But it’s a lot thinner at service even some variation within some of these characters then we have the dorsal stripe which runs from the sort of middle of the back right down to the root of the tail.
The tail of course has tradition has this broad and shape of the blunt to end with the black tip and it has these complete rings around it, but in no case do you get this dorsal stripe going on to the tail and joining the Rings together.
The other thing to look out for which is can be harder to see are the stripes on the flanks and on the rump and you can see the stripes are quite subtle but they are more or less continues sometimes they break up.
But what you don’t find is lots of spots.