Distribution

In the UK the wildcat is now restricted mainly to northeast Scotland.

Until 600 years ago it was widespread throughout Britain. Elsewhere in Europe the species Felis silvestris has a broad distribution.

Habitat

Wildcats favour wooded landscapes with a mosaic of habitats especially semi-natural woodland, conifer plantation, scrub, moorland and pastureland.

They are usually found below 500m, but have been recorded at over 800m above sea level.

Nutrition

The cats are carnivorous, but eat a wide range of food including:

  • small mammals
  • birds
  • amphibians
  • reptiles
  • insects
  • vegetation

Population biology

The most recent population estimate for the Scottish wildcat was published by Harris et al (1995) who estimated 3,500 wildcats in Scotland based on distribution data and extrapolation of radio tracked data.

There are various sightings from across Scotland and genetic testing of any dead wildcats helps scientists evaluate the population.

Current estimates suggest there may be less than 400 pure bred Scottish wildcats left in the wild.

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