1 of the smallest of Africa’s wild cats and definitely the most deadly, it’s the black-footed cat. These highly attuned predators have a knack for being lethal and are the most successful hunters in the wild cat kingdom. There are 2 known subspecies of black-footed cat in South Africa. They prefer steppes, open, arid-savannas, and semi-deserts with an abundance of trees and shrubs. Sadly, these little critters are listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN. This is due to habitat destruction, vehicle strikes, accidental poisoning, introduction of invasive species, and climate change.
First the Stats…
Scientific name: Felis nigripes
Weight: Up to 4.2 lbs.
Length: Up to 28 inches, including tail
Height: Up to 9.8 inches
Lifespan: Up to 12 years
Now on to the Facts!
1.) They can trek up to 20 miles a night in search of food.
2.) These tiny critters are nocturnal (active at night).
3.) During the heat of the day, they sleep in abandoned termite mounds, unoccupied springhare, porcupine, and aardvark burrows.
4.) Black-footed cats prey on mice, insects, small reptiles, and birds; killing up to 15 creatures a night!
5.) Black-feet have a high tolerance for dehydration and get most of their water from the food they eat.
But wait, there’s more on the black-footed cat!
6.) Their primary predators are domestic and feral dogs, wild dogs, caracals, and jackals.
7.) These little beasts communicate via purrs, loud calls, growls, gurgles, and hisses.
Did you know…?
The black-footed cat has the highest, by far, catch ratio of any wild cat. They successfully catch up to 60% of all attempts! This is pretty impressive considering much larger cats, like leopards, lions, and tigers barely get 20% or less of their targets.
8.) They are polygynous (males mate with multiple females).
9.) Mating season is between July – March.
10.) Females birth up to 3 kittens, 2 times per year.
But wait, there’s still more on the black-footed cat!
11.) Due to their stocky bodies and short tails, black-footed cats are not good climbers.
12.) Tiny, but fierce, these cats are ambush predators that sometimes wait outside rodent burrows for the opportunity to grab a tasty mouse.
Did you know…?
The black-footed cat’s vision is up to 6 times more powerful than humans! They also have incredible hearing.
13.) Kittens begin walking at around 2 weeks of age.
14.) Territories are marked with scent and urine.
15.) Their African name, “miershooptier”, means anthill tiger.
Now a Short Black-Footed Cat Video!
Also, check out the Critter Science YouTube channel. Videos added frequently!
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