Common Name: Wildcat
Phylum: Chordata (Vertebrata)
Genus: Felinae (Felis)
Misc: The African Wildcat is the ancestor of the Domestic cat. This species of cat is widely distributed and has a wide variety of coat colors to help it blend into its environment. Because of that, theWildcat was originally classified as 3 distinct species, but today they are referred to as one race with 3 subspecies. One other subspecies, F.s. grampia of Scotland, is no longer considered a separate subspecies but a member of F.s. silvestris, although some authors will make reference to it.
Felis silvestris lybica — North Africa
Felis silvestris brockmani — East Africa
Felis silvestris cafra — Southern Africa
Felis silvestris foxi — West Africa
Felis silvestris griselda — Central Africa
Felis silvestris jordansi — Majorcan wild cat
Felis silvestris ocreata — East Central Africa
Felis silvestris pyrrhus — West Central Africa
Felis silvestris sarda — Sardinia and Sicily wild cats
Felis silvestris silvestris — Europe
Felis silvestris caucasia — Caucasian Mountains and Turkey
Felis silvestris grampia — Northern Scotland
Felis silvestris caudata — Caspian Sea area
Felis silvestris ornata — India to Iran
Felis silvestris shawiana — China and Mongolia
Felis silvestris catus — Domestic Cat
Note: The species name silvestris is Latin for “Of the forest”.
Size and Appearance: A more robust version of the domestic cat, the Wildcat weighs between 7-18 pounds, stands 14-16 inches tall and reaches lengths of 29-46 inches. The European Wildcat is typically a gray-brown cat with a wide variety in ground color. The coat is usually boldly marked with stripes that run along the neck and down the flanks, just like a domestic striped tabby, but with fewer more widely spaced stripes. They usually have a white throat patch, and may have white patches on their abdomen and between their forelegs. The ears are brown with no central white spots on the backs. The tail is bushy and blunt ended, unlike the tapered end of a domestic cat’s. There is an all black Wildcat in Scotland, commonly referred to as Kellas cats, but it has now been found to be due to mixed breeding with domestic cats, and is not a pure Wildcat.
The African Wildcat is also a bit larger and stockier than its tame descendants, and is basically a pale striped tabby. Its ground color varies from sandy through yellow-gray to grayish-brown and dark gray. There are 2 color phases reported, one is grayish-tan and the other is steel gray. The darker ground color is found in the forests, while the lighter color is found in the more arid regions.
The Asian Wildcat is pale sand-colored or gray and is covered with distinct black spots.
Habitat: Forest, occasionally rocky outcrops (F.s. silvestris) . Woodland, wooded grassland and savannah (F.s. lybica). Semi-desert and steppes (F.s. ornata).
Distribution: Africa, Iraq, Iran, Scotland, France, Spain, USSR, India and Pakistan.
Reproduction and Offspring: After a gestation of 56-63 days, females produce a litter of 1-5 kittens, with 3-4 being average. At birth, the newborns weigh approximately 2.75-4.5 ounces. Their eyes will normally be open by the 10th day, and they will begin to walk by the 16th-20th day. They begin to hunt at 12 weeks and become independent by 5 months. They reach sexual maturity around 11 months.
In captivity, they have lived up to 15 years.
Social System and Communication: Solitary. Much like domestic cats, males compete for the females who are in season, and they all announce their intentions with loud “caterwauling.”
Hunting and Diet: Primarily nocturnal and terrestrial. Their main diet consists of rodents, hares, birds, reptiles, amphibians, young antelope, insects and arachnids.
Principal Threats: The primary threat for this cat is the hybridization of the population with domestic cats. Because of the wide spread problem of feral domestic cats and the long period of time which they have been a problem, it is unsure whether or not there are any pure wildcats remaining at all. If so, they are in very remote areas far away from human habitation.
Status: CITES: Appendix II. IUCN: Not listed.
Felid TAG 2000 recommendation: Wild cat ssp. (Felis sylvestris). The Eurasian and African wild cat, including forms from India, the Middle East and Europe, is generally common in nature. Gordon’s wild cat, Indian desert cat, and other forms from the Arabian Peninsula are present in North American zoos. Due to relative abundance in nature, small founder size and lack of distinct markings, this species is not recommended for support in North America.
How rare is this cat ? The International Species Information Service lists 180 in zoos worldwide, with 66 being in the U.S.
Information reprinted With Permission from the IUCN Wild Cats Book.
|European Wildcat by Tadaaki Imaizumi
||Scottish Wildcat by Bruce Coleman Ltd
December 14, 2009 3:23 PM ET
Growing up, the only pet I wanted to own was a Mogwai.
The adorable singing, baby-squawking, furry little star of Gremlins had everything I could want in a pet — a cuddly and unique alternative to the average cat or dog that I was sure I could manage, even with all those pesky rules to keep my little guy from birthing or turning into, literally, a monster.
Of course, my dream wasn’t a reality, but it fell in line with the concept of owning a pet monkey or playing with tigers and even alligators. Movies and television shows dedicated to the alien and unusual species of animals around the world brought these creatures directly into our local Cineplex and living rooms, romanticizing the idea of calling these animals our own. And who doesn’t recall that indelible image of Michael Jackson and his beloved chimp, Bubbles?
It’s that idea that helped spur the market for exotic animals as pets. From the “Sugar Glider” Joey and badgers to literally lions and tigers and bears, the market for exotic pets is wide open and business is booming. You may not find these critters at Petsmart (PETM) or PetCo (CENTA), but here’s where you can hunt them down.
Where the Wild Things Are
The exotic and wild animal trade industry in the United States is conservatively estimated to be worth $15 billion annually, according to the Humane Society. The trade in wild animals worldwide is worth many billions of dollars.
And the variety of species is astounding. Interested in a hedgehog (around $125), hyena (roughly $5,000), or kangaroo (about $1,800)? No problem. Looking for a serval — described by one seller as an unusually small wildcat (males get up to 45 pounds) adapted for hunting prey in African tall grass that feeds chiefly on large rodents or birds? It’s available (for just $2,500!).
Besides reptiles and birds, monkeys have become one of the more popular exotic pets of choice.
“Monkeys are probably what I sell the most of,” said Mac Stoutz, owner and operator of exoticpetco.com. “Capuchins, spider monkeys, squirrel monkeys, and Macaques … there is a very wide variety of clientele, from families that have several kids to those who can’t have kids. I’ve sold them to couples whose last child went off the college and they had the empty nest syndrome.”
An Unfriendly Pet
State laws vary greatly, but most people can easily find an exotic pets dealer like Stoutz via any quick online search. Animals can range in cost from a few hundred dollars to thousands for large breeds like tigers and baboons. Based on statistics from the Captive Wild Animal Protection Coalition, estimates of such creatures currently here in the United States include at least 3,000 nonhuman great apes, 5,000 to 7,000 tigers, 10,000 to 20,000 large cats, 17.3 million birds, and 8.8 million reptiles.
Among those reptiles are Burmese pythons, which have become a serious problem in Florida. In July, 2-year-old Shaiunna Hare was strangled to death in her crib by a nine-foot Burmese python kept as a pet, illegally, in her house near Orlando. Since then, legislators and animal rights activists are trying to get a handle on the thousands of pythons that are pervading the Everglades.
“There are these huge yellow pythons that are too big to be handled, and they wreak havoc on the native wildlife,” said Don Anthony, communications director for Animal Rights Foundation of Florida. “The basic problem with exotics is that first of all, simply based on the word itself, they don’t belong here.” Providing the right care, housing, diet, and maintenance that exotic animals require can be overwhelming. Animals like pythons that prove too difficult for owners to care for have been known to languish in cages or small pens in backyards or are often abandoned or killed. Malnutrition, stress, trauma, and behavioral disorders are common, according to the ASPCA. Medical care can also be a problem in that not all veterinarians are like zoo vets and they don’t have the ability to handle exotic animals. And sometimes symptoms are difficult to detect.
There’s No Place Like Home
While many of these exotic animals are bred here (including Stoutz’s monkeys), those that aren’t usually hold on to the instincts they learned in their natural environments. According to the ASPCA, monkeys, birds, and wildcats normally travel several miles in a single day in their natural habitat and big cats like tigers need major territory to roam, something the average backyard can’t provide.
“People see these animals when they’re small and just a few inches long and then they get bigger and bigger and they don’t know how to take care of them or feed them,” Anthony said. “It’s not fair to owners or the animals themselves.”
A lot of states, including Florida and Michigan, will offer exotic pet amnesty days throughout the year, where owners who can no longer handle their rare animals can drop them off with authorities, who turn them over to professional caretakers.
And that’s also why Stoutz is careful about what he sells to whom.
“I’ve had someone offer me $12,000 for a tiger and I wouldn’t sell it to them,” Stoutz said. “Larger animals like a lion or a tiger, if I get it from a zoo, it’ll go to another zoo, because I just don’t feel like someone should have a lion. It’s just an accident waiting to happen. And most people don’t have what it takes to take care of an animal that size.”
Stoutz also says that although he tries to stay on top of state laws, most potential buyers need to do the same. “A Capuchin monkey is $7,000. Nobody wants to buy a monkey, bring it home, fall in love with it, and three months later have authorities come and take it away from you and now that agency has to find a home for it.”
Beyond a state’s requirements, one also has to consider the possible risk of disease, as most animal organizations point out. Many exotic animals can carry diseases, such as hepatitis B, salmonella, monkeypox, and rabies, which are communicable — and can be fatal — to humans, according to the national animal advocacy nonprofit Born Free USA.
Still, the fact remains that proper channels are in place in states all across the country for those looking to own an exotic pet, so the trade goes on. Stoutz lauds Florida laws that essentially require a specific class of permit depending on what animal a person has, which allows the state to basically document every exotic pet in its vicinity. And yet, everyone seems to agree that there are still people that own these animals illegally.
“I’m sure there are plenty of people in California who have monkeys that aren’t supposed to,” Stoutz said. California is among states with the strictest rules against exotic pet ownership. “I’m sure there are plenty of monkeys in places they shouldn’t be. But if somebody wants something bad enough, they’re going to get it.”
This story was written by Danielle Samaniego for Divine Caroline.
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org
Ethiopia: Courts Ambush Illegal Wildlife-Products’ Traders
14 December 2009
Addis Fortune (Addis Ababa)
The Federal First Instance courts of the Arada and Pawlos areas’ criminal benches passed a verdict of 5,000 to 9,000 Br in fines, last week, against 81 defendants accused of illegal trading of wildlife products.
The defendants were placed under police custody during a six-hour raid in Addis Abeba on November 25, 2009, in search of illegal wildlife articles in 115 souvenir and gift article shops located around the main post office, along Churchill Road, and Tana Market in Merkato.
During the raid, police seized various kinds of wildlife products including 191kg of ivory, 12 skins of differing kinds and sizes, 38 raw tusks of wild boars and articles made of wild boar tusks as well as 200 claws of lions and other wildcats in 81 shops, Elfinesh Woldeyes, public relations director of the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA) told journalists at a press conference held in Addis Abeba on December 9, 2009.
The federal prosecutor filed charges against 25 of the 81 shop owners on November 28, 2009, at the Pawlos Area Criminal Bench of the Federal First Instance Court, which found them guilty and sentenced each of them with a 5,000 Br fine in a Real Time Dispatch trial (RTD).
Similarly, the prosecutor filed charges against 56 shop owners at the Arada Area Criminal Bench of the Federal First Instance Court which found them guilty and sentenced them with 5,000 to 9,000 Br fines in a similar RTD trial held from November 28 through 30, 2009.
The defendants were accused of breaching laws promulgated under Article 12 and 16 of the Ethiopian wildlife conservation proclamation of 2006.
One female defendant who has been released on bail due to health problems was fined 5,500 Br on December 1, 2009, Mitiku Gebremichael, an EWCA lawyer, told Fortune. The total sum of fines levied upon the defendants was 463,100 Br, according to Mitiku.
Some 28 trained wildlife workers (scouts), 110 police officers and seven wildlife experts with one officer from the Interpol were involved in the raid, which lasted about six hours from 10 in the morning to four in the afternoon, according to Elfinesh.
The operation, which is part of the biggest campaign against cross-border wildlife products trading in East Africa, was coordinated by Interpol, involving officers of the EWCA, the federal and Addis Abeba police.
The illegal trading of wildlife products is practiced by traders who are licensed to sell traditional goods and gift articles said Elfinesh, adding that similar investigations will take place in Bole and Haya-hulet Mazoria areas.
Similar action was taken in 2004 by the then Wildlife Conservation Department under the Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development.
The country having allowed sport hunting, has currently given licences – via the authority – to eight individuals and organisations, whose activity is closely followed by wildlife experts.
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Freeland’s exotic pets expelled by ordinance
By AMANDA CHRISTMAN (Staff Writer)
Published: December 4, 2009
If you live in Freeland and have a pet puma – or any other animal considered exotic – you’ll have to pay a fee or find it a new home.
Freeland Council approved its version of an exotic pet ordinance at Thursday night’s meeting.
The ordinance was drafted and advertised to the public in November after two pet pythons went missing from an Adams Street home, to the fright of several people in the neighborhood. The snakes were eventually found, according to borough police, but residents still rallied for a ban on certain animals from becoming pets.
Now, residents who keep a pet defined under the ordinance as exotic or wild is subject to a $1,000 fine, 30 days in prison or both for each day the violation exists.
The ordinance also bans breeding or selling the animals in Freeland.
If someone has a pet considered exotic, they don’t necessarily have to get rid of it. The pet owners can obtain a $300 permit and non-conforming use status for the animal, pending borough approval. The pet in question cannot have a history of health or safety problems and the owner must fill out an application that includes the animal’s species, age and sex and a plan for housing the animal to prevent its escape.
If the pet dies or is taken from the home for any other reason, it cannot be replaced.
The permits must be obtained within 30 days of council adopting the ordinance.
Anyone who violates the ordinance must get rid of the animal or give it to the borough police department. Officers are allowed to release the animal into the wild, a zoo, or “dispose” of it in a humane manner, at the owner’s expense.
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On the list
By AMANDA CHRISTMAN (Staff Writer)
Published: November 3, 2009
Freeland Council continued its meeting to December so it can vote on a proposed exotic pet ordinance.
The ordinance stems from an incident last week, when two pet pythons were reported missing from an Adams Street home, which alarmed several neighbors enough to ask council to ban some pets considered dangerous.
Anyone that keeps a pet defined as exotic or wild by the proposed ordinance is subject to a $1,000 fine, 30 days in prison or both, for each day the violation exists.
The proposed ordinance also bans the breeding, sale, adoption or transfer of pets considered exotic or wild.
The ordinance also provides rules for anyone that owns an exotic or wild pet in the borough now. Essentially, the ordinance states people must own the pet prior to Monday night’s council meeting, when council announced it would advertise the ordinance for 30 days.
Those pet owners can get a $300 permit and non-conforming use status for the animal pending zoning officer approval and if they meet certain criteria set by the ordinance. Those criteria include no prior health or safety problems against the pet owner. The owner must also fill out an application that includes the animal’s species, age and sex and a plan for housing the animal to prevent escape. The pet is also not allowed to roam in public freely.
When the pet dies or is removed from the home it can’t be replaced.
The permit must be obtained within 30 days of council adopting the ordinance.
Anyone that keeps a wild or exotic pet in violation of the ordinance must get rid of the animal or give it to the borough police department. Officers are allowed to release the animal to the wild, a zoo, or “dispose” of it in a humane manner, depending on the type of animal. The animal’s owner will pay the borough for the cost of removal or placement. The ordinance would be enforced by borough code, zoning, police and possibly a building code inspector.
Council will vote on the ordinance at its continued meeting. Dec. 3 at 6:30 p.m. Once the ordinance is advertised it will be available for public inspection at the borough.
The two snakes reported missing Wednesday prompted Freeland police and fire departments to conduct a search of the neighborhood around 345 Adams St., looking for a nine-foot long and a four-foot long python.
Nicole Composto of 343 Adams St. who lives in the other half of the double home where the snakes went missing was so scared that she, her husband, Steve, and two small children stayed with a relative until Saturday night. At Monday’s council meeting, Composto thanked the borough for its quick action in dealing with the issue and for arranging for a Vector Control exterminator to inspect the homes and try to locate the smaller snake, which is still at large.
The larger snake was found later that night but the smaller python still remains at large. Solicitor Donald Karpowich said, when talking to the snake’s owner, he was told the snake likely died because its body can’t handle the cold weather.
Resident Nick Lapchak, who attended Monday’s council meeting said many people in the neighborhood were worried about the missing pythons.
Councilman John Budda asked if pit bulls could be added to the list of banned animals. Karpowich said he didn’t think it could, but noted any dog that harms a human being or has a history of aggressive behavior is banned. Sgt. Rob Maholik said the ordinance should include any dog that harms a human or another animal and Karpowich agreed to add that to the law.
email@example.com Animals considered wild or exotic and, according to the ordinance, are banned from becoming pets in a Freeland home, include but aren’t limited to:
Amphibians – All venomous frogs, toads, turtles.
Felines – Lions, pumas, panthers, mountain lions, leopards, jaguars, ocelots, margays, tigers, bobcats and wild cats. It excludes common domesticated cats.
Crocodilians – All alligators, caimans, crocodiles and gavials.
Dogs – Wolf, fox, coyote, dingo or the offspring of a domestic dog that was bred with such types. Also, any dog that bites, injures or attacks a human being without being provoked, or any dog deemed dangerous under state law is banned.
Pigs – All wild or domesticated swine, excluding certified Vietnamese potbellied pigs.
Reptiles – All venomous and constricting snakes, such as boa constrictors, pythons and all venomous lizards.
Venomous invertebrates – Such as spiders and scorpions.
In addition, porcupines, skunks, sub-human primates, raccoons, civets, weasels, martens, mink, wolverines, ferrets, badgers, otters, ermine and mongoose.
Vietnamese potbellied pigs must be certified as such by a nationally recognized registry or a licensed veterinarian, they must also be spayed or neutered, vaccinated and can’t be bred. Owners must also keep proper documentation if they were advised against vaccination by a licensed veterinarian.
Domesticated ferrets are allowed but must be de-scented, spayed or neutered, vaccinated and not allowed to wander freely outside. Proper vaccination documentation on the pet ferret must be shown to a borough official upon request. Ferret breeding is banned.
– Amanda Christman
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