Variety of habitats in India, Egypt, Southern Asia
|Conservation Status |
The jungle cat is a medium-sized wild cat native to South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. They are particularly common in India.
Similar to the Serval, the jungle cat has long legs and a slender body. Their coat can vary from sandy brown, reddish to gray. The throat and underside being a pale cream. Brown stripes are seen on the legs and tail. They have relatively short black-tipped tails. The ears are long, rounded and reddish with lynx-like tufts on the tips.
Jungle cats live solitary lives, except for breeding season. They are most active during the day, but can also be seen during the night, often hunting and stopping during the noon hours. They swim in order to lose their scent, unlike most cats who use grooming to do this. They have also been seen sunbathing in cold days. Behavior of the jungle cat has not been extensively studied.
Despite their name, they do not inhabit jungles and rainforests. They prefer habitats near water with dense vegetation to hide in but can be found in a variety of habitats such as savannahs, deserts, wetlands and reedbeds along rivers and lakes. They have also adapted to living near human villages and agricultural lands. They live in abandoned burrows of other animals and in old buildings.
Jungle cats mainly hunt for small rodents but will also eat frogs, birds and wild pigs. Near human settlements they feed on chickens and ducks. They are excellent swimmers and sometimes dive in shallow waters to catch fish. Like most other cats, they stalk and ambush prey, using reeds as cover.
Habitat loss, hunting and persecution by humans are threats to jungle cats. Farmers often trap and poison jungle cats for attacking and killing livestock and are also poached for their fur. In many areas they are listed as critically endangered. Many countries have prohibited hunting but populations are currently declining.
- Unlike most cats, the jungle cat has equally-sized claws on both fore and hind legs.
- A few jungle cats have been found mummified and placed in tombs in ancient Egypt.
- Cat breeders have been able to breed jungle cats with domestic cats, making the Chausie and jungle bob.