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Iriomotsky (Japanese wild) cat. Iriomot cat, Iriomote cat Latin name: Felis iriomotensis. Other names: Japanese wild cat

The only known habitat is the subtropical thicket of the island of Iriomote, whose area is only 292 square kilometers. Iriomote Island is part of the Ryukyu Group of Islands, it is located just two hundred kilometers from Taiwan.

Although outwardly the Iriomotian cat resembles a Bengal cat, its discoverer, Japanese zoologist Y. Imaitsumi, believes that the differences are so significant that this animal is undoubtedly a new feline. Iriomotsky cat is distinguished by a number of ancient primitive features, so Imaitsumi called it a "living fossil." So, in the upper jaw, she has one missing anchor tooth, which is why the Iriomotsky cat, like the cheetah, has only 28 teeth, and not 30 like all felids. It is also noteworthy that in the Iriomotian cat (again similar to a cheetah), distinct black lines stretch from both inner corners of the eyes along the wings of the nose. The tail is extremely thick and bushy, with dark spots on its upper surface at the base.

This small animal is endowed not only with a short tail, but also with short legs, therefore it looks squat, its shapes are rounded. A study of the anatomical differences between the legs of the Iriomotian and Bengal cats showed that the Iriomotian cat has not fully retractable claws and small membranes between the toes. Although at first it was considered a subspecies of a Bengal cat, the fossils found indicate the independence of this species for approximately two million years.

Color: The main color of the cat is dark brown, its body is covered with small, even darker spots along the entire length. They are located so close to each other that, like the ocelot, merge into one. Five to seven lines can be distinguished, extending from the shoulders to the back of the neck. Ears are rounded and dark, with a whitish spot. A partial form of albino is also described, but this is the only known color variant of the color of the Iriomotian cat.

The length of the cat is 70 - 90 cm, and a quarter (about 18 cm) falls on the relatively thick tail. Height in shoulders: 25 cm. Weight: 3-7 kg, on average - 4.5 kg

Life expectancy: about 8-10 years, maximum - up to 16.

Voice: They meow and howl like domestic cats.

Habitat: This endemic cat inhabits subtropical rainforests, mountainous and agricultural areas, coasts of islands with dense mangroves along estuaries. The highest mountain is only 470 m. The Iriomotsky cat completely avoids settlements.

Enemies: Local people and poisonous snakes. The threat to the existence of the species is represented by hybridization (crossbreeding) with local wild cats. This diluted the genetic integrity of the species, and threatened its existence. They also suffer from the activities of people, such as the construction of roads, dams and the airport, which reduce their area.

It preys on small terrestrial mammals, mainly rodents, including the local species of rats. Willingly catch fish, water birds, fruit bats, crabs. In one study, 50% of prey biomass was identified as mammals, about 25% were birds and 20% were reptiles. Insects also play an important role in their nutrition: the remains of 39 beetle species were found in their excrement. In general, more than 95 species of animals were found among the remains of their meal, including black rats, wild pigs, herons, quails, pigeons, owls, kingfishers, robins, blackbirds, crows, turtles, skinks and amphibians.

The lifestyle is little known. Probably, the cat leads mainly a terrestrial way of life, although sometimes it climbs on tree branches. In search of prey, the cat often goes into the water, swims beautifully. By way of life, it is mainly a nocturnal predator, spends the day in its den or other secluded place. In captivity, they are enthusiastic swimmers playing for a long time in the water.

During the winter months, Iriomotian cats descend from the mountains down into the lowlands, probably for feeding reasons.

Social structure: An obvious hermit by nature, the Iriomotian cat is extremely territorial. Iriomotian cats establish individual hunting territories, occupying from 2.1 to 4.7 km2 for males, 0.95-1.55 km2 for females, the borders of which are constantly marked by smell marks (urine is used).

Reproduction: During the rut, cats spend a lot of time marking their territory with urine, vocalize a lot, sometimes in pairs, which clearly indicates preparation for mating. At the same time, violent fights were observed between the males, and only the winner of such tournament fights gets the opportunity to mate with a female ready for breeding.

Season / breeding season: The breeding season is predominantly in early spring. It is assumed that cats can breed twice a year, between February and March, and September - October.

Puberty: 8 months. Pregnancy: from 50 to 60 days, according to other sources - 60-70 days. Offspring: Usually 2-4 kittens are born. Once there was a case of the birth of 8 kittens.

Cat meat is considered to be a delicacy on the island. The first scientific review showed that 63% of the islanders met these cats in nature, and 12% ate them.

Despite these problems, many of the inhabitants of the island are proud of “their” cat.

Two teams of Japanese molecular scientists conducted DNA research in the 1990s and concluded that the Iriomotian cat is closest to the Bengal cat Felis bengalensis and this genetic separation occurred less than 200,000 years ago, which coincides with the separation of the Ryukyu Islands from the mainland.

The genus of Oriental cats / Genus Prionailurus Severtzov, 1858

A genus close to the genus of cats has previously been included in it as a subgenus.

The range covers South and East Asia, from Pakistan and India to the islands of the Malay archipelago, China, Korea and the Russian Far East. Relatively large, medium or small cats: body length 35-107 cm, weight 1.6-7 kg. The ears are small, rounded. There is a whitish spot on the back of the ear. The tail is long, slightly more or less than half the length of the head and body, depending on the species. The main color is changeable, but the pattern is always distinct and consists of four main bands passing from the head through the shoulders to the back, where they are usually wide and noticeable, but below the spine, as a rule, more or less broken into elongated spots. The sides of the body are also marked by spots, which are often lanceolate, sometimes similar to sockets, occasionally forming longitudinal chains, but never merging into vertical stripes, as in the genus Felis. The front legs are usually spotted from the outside, the hind legs at least to the knees. The tail is colored lower paler than the top, but the difference is not sharply contrasted. On the head, 2 stripes pass along the cheeks, a pair of white spots between the eyes, the upper lip is white.

Biological features are generally similar to those of cats of the Felis genus; in fact, oriental cats ecologically replace them in Southeast Asia.

Prionailurus bengalensis (Kerr, 1792)Bengal cat
Prionailurus iriomotensis (Imaizumi 1967)Iriomotsky cat
Prionailurus planiceps (Vigors and Horsfield, 1827)Sumatran cat
Prionailurus rubiginosus (I. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1831)Spotted red cat
Prionailurus viverrinus (Bennett, 1833)Fishing cat

Description of the iriomotsky wild cat

Outwardly, the Japanese wild cat resembles a Bengal cat, but its discoverer Yu. Imaitsumi relates it to a new type of cat, due to a number of differences. For example, a Japanese wild cat has 28 teeth, not 30, like the rest of the felids.

In addition, in the Iriomotsky cat, black stripes stretch from the corners of the eyes to the nose, which makes her closely related to cheetahs. And her tail is very thick and densely pubescent, dotted with dark spots.

The tail and legs of the Iriomotian cat are short, so the predator looks squat. The shape of the body is round.

When studying the differences between the legs of an Iriomotian cat and a Bengal cat, it became clear that the Japanese wild cat's claws are not fully retracted, and there are membranes between the fingers. These features, which were characteristic of the Iriomotian cat 2 million years ago, gave rise to isolating it as an independent species.

Iriomotsky cat (Prionailurus bengalensis iriomotensis).

The body length of a Japanese forest cat ranges from 70 to 90 centimeters, while about 18 centimeters of this length falls on a relatively thick tail. The growth in the shoulders is about 25 centimeters. Body weight ranges from 3 to 7 kilograms, on average it is 4.5 kilograms.

The main color of the iriomot cat is dark brown. Small dark spots are scattered throughout the body. They are so close to each other that they merge into one, like that of an ocelot.

You can see from 5 to 7 stripes going from the shoulders to the back of the neck. The ears are rounded with whitish spots. A partial form of albino is also found.

Japanese Wild Cat Habitat

This endemic predator lives in subtropical rainforests, on coasts with dense mangroves, in mountainous areas and agricultural areas. The highest mountain on which Iriomotsky cats are found is 470 meters.

Japanese wild cats shun settlements.

Iriomotsky wild cat lifestyle

The lifestyle of these cats is not well known. Most likely, Japanese wild cats lead a land-based lifestyle, but sometimes they can climb tree branches. In pursuit of prey, cats can go into the water, they swim perfectly. In captivity, they can play in water for a long time and swim. Iriomotsky cats, like domestic cats, howl and meow.

These are mainly nocturnal predators, in the daytime they rest in a secluded place or den. In winter, Japanese wild cats descend from the mountains to the plains, where there is more food.

By nature, these animals are hermits; they exhibit extreme territorial behavior.

They live on separate sites ranging in size from 1 to 5 square kilometers. Iriomotsky cats regularly mark the boundaries of their sites with urine.

The life expectancy of wild Japanese cats is from 8 to 10 years, and a maximum of them can live up to 16 years.

The diet consists of small rodents, waterfowl, crabs.

Iriomotsky wild cats

Wild Japanese cats attack small terrestrial mammals, mostly rodents, including local rats. They successfully catch fish, crabs, water birds and bats.

According to studies, about 50% of the diet of Japanese wild cats consists of mammals, about 25% are birds and 20% are reptiles. Insects also play a significant role in nutrition. In total, about 95 species of different animals were found in feces: wild pigs, rats, herons, owls, pigeons, robins, turtles, skinks and the like.

Pregnancy is 70–80 days, at the end of April-May, 2–4 kittens are born.

Breeding wild Japanese cats

The breeding season in wild Japanese cats occurs mainly in early spring. It is believed that cats can breed 2 times a year: in February-March and September-October. At this time, cats constantly mark the territory with urine, shout a lot, sometimes in pairs. Fierce fights are often started between the males, only the winner gets the opportunity to mate with the female.

Pregnancy lasts about 60 days. The female Iriomotsky cat brings 2-4 babies. The case of the birth of 8 babies was recorded. They have puberty at 8 months.

Japanese wild guts and people

The survey showed that about 63% of local residents met these predators in nature, and 12% ate them.

On the island of Iriomote, the meat of these cats is considered a delicacy.

The natural enemies of Iriomotian cats are poisonous snakes. The reduction in the number of species of Japanese wild cats may occur due to hybridization, which occurs as a result of crossbreeding with local wild cats. This undermines the genetic integrity of the species, which threatens its existence. In addition, the activity of people leads to a decrease in the number of species: the construction of roads, the airport, dams, all this reduces the range of the Japanese wild cat.

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