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Atlas der Säugetiere Nordrhein-Westfalens

AG Säugetierkunde in NRW

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Felis silvestris




Foto: Hajo Kobialka
Next to the Lynx the European Wildcat is one of two small felid species originally native to NRW. While not the wild form of the domestic cat, it is nevertheless closely related to it. A special characteristic of the Wildcat is the bushy tail with several black bands and a blunt ending, black tip. Tiger-striped domestic cats can also display almost all characteristics of the Wildcat. Hence the danger of confusion is especially great with young animals. Once a year, usually in April, Wildcats give birth to two to four young, which become independent after about half a year. The best litter sites are natural tree cavities, but as a substitute they utilize, for example, vertical root balls.
The image of the Wildcat has changed through time: From the blood-thirsty beast which supposedly took down even Red Deer calves, to the flagship species for contiguous forests, species-rich forest edge structures and large un-dissected spaces. These are of existential importance, since tomcats in hilly landscapes have territories of much over 1000 ha / female cats of over 500 ha. Individual migrations/excursions of up to 30 km beeline, and the return into the native area could be documented. During this endeavour especially inexperienced young animals fall victim to road traffic. New studies document the development that Eurasian Wildcats increasingly use steppe-like structures and woody riverine valleys in open country. Here the food supply is noticeably better than in the partially monotonous forests. Regarding the habitat Wildcats are more flexible than in the choice of food. Wild Cats are highly specialised mouse hunters.
In contrast to the Lynx the Wildcat was never extirpated in NRW. A remnant population survived in the Eifel from whence, after a population low a 100 years ago, the largest population in Germany grew, which is a central part of the overall Central European population. Especially in the last decade, a noticeable spread of the species on the right bank areas of the Rhine can be observed. Be it the Egge Mountains, Arnsberg Forest or Rothaar Mountains — the Wildcat re-conquers its former area of distribution. Especially interesting is the recolonisation of the Kottenforst since there exists a high potential for disturbance through visitors.


Manfred Trinzen


Trinzen M (2023): Wildkatze (Felis silvestris).In: AG Säugetierkunde NRW — Online-Atlas of the mammals of North Rhine-Westphalia. Downloaded from saeugeratlas-nrw.lwl.org on 2023/03/27



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