If you love domestic cats, does it follow you’re just as enamored with the amazing big cats of the world too? I know you can’t exactly pick them up and cuddle them, and they roar more than they purr, but they are wonderful creatures. Let’s learn about some of our world’s amazing big cats.
Isn’t he beautiful? The ocelot is sadly among the amazing big cats that are subject to hunting for their stunning fur, although I’m happy to report that after a period on the endangered list, they are now considered safe numerically. The ocelot enjoys a mainly solitary life in the dense jungle foliage of South and Central America and lives on amphibians, rodents and deer. What’s so amazing about the ocelot? Well, it is a nocturnal creature so it has the best night vision of the big cats.
Another stunning looking animal! Mainly found in Central Asian mountain ranges where they often live in caves, Snow Leopards are considered endangered because estimates put the number of them at around 5,000. They hunt deer, boar and mountain goats and aren’t very territorial and will cede to a challenger rather than fight. What’s special about them? They have an extra long tail that helps them balance as they climb rocky mountain terrain.
What makes the cheetah worthy to be on the list of amazing big cats is that it is a lean, mean running machine. It is cited as the Fastest Land Animal in the World and is able to reach a speed of 70 miles per hour. Their speed gives them the edge over their prey, which consists of African grazing animals like zebra, antelope and wildebeest. Sadly, they can’t run faster than a bullet and the cheetah is classed as a vulnerable species.
I’ve got some interesting things to tell you about tigers. Firstly, I wonder if the lion would still be the King of the Jungle if lions and tigers lived on the same continent (Africa for lions, Asia for tigers). Tigers are more vicious and aggressive, stronger and faster than lions. Tigers would definitely beat lions in a fight. Tigers are the biggest of the big cats. There are actually six species of tiger and the interesting thing – you know those gorgeous white tigers? They’re simply an albino Bengal tiger, the most numerous species. And you know how cats supposedly hate water? Tigers are excellent swimmers.
This magnificent creature is the third largest of the big cats behind the tiger and lion. And like the tiger, jaguars enjoy a dip or two in the water. They live in South America and despite being the national animal of Brazil they are endangered – both from hunting and degradation of their jungle habitat. The jaguar has shorter, stockier limbs than other amazing big cats but with their skills in climbing, crawling, swimming and stalking, they are formidable hunters. With their incredibly powerful jaws and bite force, they have no problem even eating a crocodile.
What’s interesting about the lynx is that unlike many other big cats, it is spread across more than one continent. Although now in Europe, North America and Western Asia, it also used to be found in Africa. There are four species: the Eurasian; the Canada; the Iberian; and the only one not named for its location, the Bobcat. The Eurasian is the biggest and is one of the largest predators in Europe (after the brown bear and grey wolf). The fascinating fact about lynx is that the Iberian Lynx is the most endangered of all big cats. It is so critically endangered that there is a very real possibility of it becoming the very first feline extinction since 10,000 years ago, when the smilodon died out.
I find this one quite fascinating. The black panther isn’t actually a species. It is actually another cat which, thanks to a genetic condition called melanism, the coat is black rather than one of the spotty type ones. So, a black panther from South and Central America is a black-coated jaguar, and black panthers in Africa and Asia are in fact, leopards with black coats. What’s more, a spotted jaguar or leopard can give birth to spotted AND black offspring in the same litter. Nature also produces, although rarely, white panthers, which are albino leopards or jaguars.
Big cats are wonderful creatures and it’s such a shame we don’t appreciate them more to not hunt them. Which of the amazing big cats is your favorite?
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