Fishing cat

He is a wild animal

Origin
Southeast Asia
Translation
Francis Vandersteen
The possession of this animal is not authorized Royal Decree establishing the list of mammals not kept for production purposes that may be kept (M.B. 24.08.2009)
The fishing cat, also known as the raccoon cat, is a species of feline. A medium-sized feline with marked sexual dimorphism, the Fishing Cat is adapted to hunting in aquatic environments, with its compact body, small, thick tail, elongated skull, small ears set back from the head and webbed paws with semi-retractile claws.

The Fishing Cat measures 30 to 35 cm in height at the withers. Head and body length vary from 75 to 86 cm, while the tail is 23 to 33 cm long. This medium-sized feline weighs between 11 and 12 kg for males and 6 to 7 kg for females.

This feline is compact in appearance, with short, partially webbed forelegs, a broad, fairly elongated head and a short, thick tail that accounts for a quarter to a third of the feline's total length and probably acts as a rudder in the water. The small ears are set well back on the skull, are rounded and have a white oval patch on the underside. The morphology of its teeth does not reveal an adaptation to an all-fish diet.

The coat is olive-gray with stripes and spots. Black lines run down the spine from the top of the eyes to the tail. There are seven to eight vertical lines on the forehead. Large, oval-shaped, all-black spots dot the entire body, including the white belly. On the flanks, the spots are arranged in a horizontal line. The tail is ringed in black. The claws are only partially retractable. The fur is protected from water by a short, dense, waterproof undercoat that bristles like quills when wet.

In its range, it may be confused with the Flathead Cat, another fishing cat with similar behavior. However, the Fishing Cat is twice as big, and its coat is completely different from that of the Flatheaded Cat, which is plain and found only in Malaysia and on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.

The Fishing Cat is reputed to be ferocious, capable of killing leopards twice its size. Although its habits are essentially diurnal, this feline is considered difficult to observe in the wild. The Fishing Cat is a solitary feline. In Nepal, the territory is around 22 km2 for males and 4 to 8 km2 for females.

The Fishing Cat hunts in wetlands by wading or swimming. Its hunting techniques include a patient stalk on the water's surface, followed by a dive into the water (or simply a paw) to capture the fish and bring it to shore to eat. It can also wait for the tidal action to leave crustaceans and fish trapped in water holes within its reach. It has been observed capturing ducks in Pakistan by grasping them underwater by the legs.

Its diet includes mainly fish, amphibians (frogs and toads) and crustaceans. Its dentition shows that it is not entirely specialized in feeding on fish and crustaceans, and its diet also includes mammals, such as young Chitals and Wild Boars, birds and snakes. It can also prey on poultry and small livestock, as well as domestic animals such as goats, calves and dogs. Studies of feces in Keoladeo National Park have shown that fish make up 76% of its diet, followed by birds (27%), insects (13%) and rodents (9%).

The main call of the Fishing Cat is a regular sequence of hoarse sounds that can be compared to a bark. The attack begins with a higher-pitched "aah" or "ow", which may be repeated several times before the "bark". Varying in length and frequency of repetition, and even resembling a meow, the male's call is different, sounding deeper and gruffer than the higher-pitched female.

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