Jungle Cat

Cat of the Month ~ May 2015
a jungle cat just sits and ponders
Male Jungle Cat looking very dog like at Pont-Scorff Zoo (Nr Lorient, France)
Photo: Pont-Scorff Zoo
The Jungle Cat or ‘Felis Chaus’ of Asia is known as the ‘reed cat’ or ‘swamp cat’ in Africa. This is probably a more accurate name for this feline, as it rarely strays into jungle regions. Preferred habitat is anywhere where there is water. Lake margins or riversides which often border dense ground cover are an excellent environment in which to hunt and breed. However the extent of habitation is much wider than this; ranging from desert (where it is found near oases or along dry riverbeds) to grassland, shrubby woodland and dry deciduous forest, as well as cleared areas of forest. They have been observed from sea level up to altitudes of 8,000 ft or more. Jungle cats are distributed throughout Asia, Sri Lanka and India. They are also found in Egypt. Jungle cats are tenacious and adaptable moving into regions reclaimed by humans , where irrigation and cultivation have been carried out. However the jungle cat is prone to loosing its habitat due to the very same human intervention.
a jungle cat on a log
Jungle Cat in motion
Photo: wildwings.co.uk
Similar in build to the Serval and the African Wildcat and once thought to be related to the Lynx, Jungle cats are actually a very close relative of the domestic cat. They have long legs and a sleek build but they can grow to quite a hefty 14 Kilograms in weight standing up to 40 cms tall with a length of almost 100 cms. Tails are short though at 20 to 30 cms, with faint rings, and bearing a black tip. A jungle cats coat can range through sandy-brown, reddish or gray, and is unpatterned except for some brown striping on the legs. The ears are tall and rounded and are reddish with short, wide tufts on the tips. Jungle cats feed mainly on small mammals, principally rodents, (a study in India’s Sariska reserve estimated that jungle cats catch and eat three to five rodent per day). Birds rank second in importance, but in southern Russia waterfowl are the mainstay of jungle cat diet in the winter. With overwintering populations of waterfowl congregating in large numbers on unfrozen rivers and marshes, the jungle cat hunts among reed beds and along edges of wetlands, searching for injured or weakened birds. Other prey species are taken more opportunistically, including hares, nutria, lizards, snakes, frogs, insects, and fish.


Lion Cub

Cat of the Month ~ October 2014
lion cub photo by sperka
Lion Cub at Play

Photograph: Christian Sperka
Christian Sperka was born in Germany in 1962 is a professional photographer and photography teacher based in Nashville, Tennessee. Over the last 10 years, Christian has traveled the world ( living in Germany, Switzerland and the USA) photographing mainly animals in wild game preserves of South Africa, the jungles of Costa Rica, as well as zoos in Switzerland and across the United States. His work has been featured in wildlife magazines, books and promotional campaigns for Nashville Zoo, Cincinnati Zoo and Zurich Zoo in Switzerland. In June 2010, Christian opened his Animal Art Photography gallery at the Arcade in Nashville. Since January 2011 he is the Offical Nashville Zoo Photographer and Photography Teacher. Visit Christian Sperka’s Website to view photographs of animals of all kinds.

Serval Cat of Africa

Cat of the Month ~ March 2011
The Serval Cat
The Stately Serval, A highly intelligent Cat
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons
The Serval (Leptailurus Serval), is a medium-sized African wild cat which has lion and cheetah ancestors. (It is the cheetah which is thought to have descended from ancient Servals). The serval is native to Africa, where it widely distributed south of the Sahara. Its main habitat is the savanna, although the light coloured (melanistic) strain of this animal are more usually found in mountainous areas at elevations up to 3,000 Metres or 10,000 ft The Serval needs rivers and streams within its territory, so it does not live in semi-deserts or dry steppes. Servals also avoid dense equatorial jungles, although they may be found along forest fringes. They are able to climb and swim, but seldom do so. Servals are nocturnal, and so hunt mostly at night, unless disturbed by human activity or the presence of larger nocturnal predators. Although the serval is specialized for catching rodents, it is an opportunistic predator whose diet also includes birds and small mammals, fish, and frogs. It has also been seen feeding on larger animals, such as deer, gazelle, and springbok. The Serval eats very quickly, sometimes too quickly, causing it to gag and regurgitate due to clogging in the throat. Small prey are though devoured whole. Like many cats, Servals are able to purr. The Serval also has a high-pitched call, and can hiss, cackle, growl and meow. As part of its adaptations for hunting in the savannas, the Serval has extremely long legs (the longest of all cats, relative to body size) for jumping, which also help it achieve a top speed of 80 kilometres per hour (50 mph). The long legs (and neck) also allow the Serval to see over tall grasses, while its very large ears are used to detect prey, even those burrowing underground. Servals have been known to dig into burrows in search of underground prey, and to leap 2 to 3.6 metres into the air to grab birds in flight or to pounce on ground prey. While hunting, the Serval may pause for up to 15 minutes at a time to listen with eyes closed.
A Serval looking from the rear. The eyespot markings or ocellus are used to signal to Serval kittens when hunting.
Photograph: Creative Commons Attribution 2.5
The Serval then is an proficient killer, catching prey on an average of 50% of attempts (with a 67% success rate at night), compared to around one in ten attempts for most species of cat. Servals are extremely intelligent, and demonstrate remarkable problem-solving ability, making them notorious for getting into mischief, as well as easily outwitting their prey, and eluding other predators. The Serval will often play with its captured prey for several minutes, before consuming it (where have we seen that before, Ed.). In most situations, Servals will ferociously defend their food against attempted theft by others. Males can be more aggressive than females. Continue reading