Stories were told about the mythical "cat fox" on the French island of Corsica for generations. It was part of many myths and fairy tales. People even attributed magical powers to it. The animal looked like a big cat. It had a bushy tail, long canines and the color of a fox. For a long time they were considered to be a mere myth, until a few were caught in a remote part of the island.
The newly discovered cat is truly big (about 90 cm in length) and more powerful than European cats, and it has longer fangs in proportion to its body. Its extremely thick coat, which protects it from fleas and ticks, is indeed similar to that of a fox in color and patterns. It prefers a nocturnal life, which is why it was only discovered recently. According to initial DNA research, it does not have much in common with European wild cats. It has been found to be more closely related to the African wildcat, which raised many other questions. How did it get across the sea from the African continent to the European island?
The very first individual was caught quite randomly in a chicken coop in 2008. 4 years later researchers placed wooden sticks around the island, which the cats like to smell and rub against. This is how they first received the DNA and fur samples from the animal. Since 2016, more than 10 specimens have been captured, studied and released again.
Experts from the French National Office for Hunting and Wildlife continue to observe and study this gold-striped cat to determine its identity, identify its origins and learn about the animal's eating and other habits. Scientists also advocate the protection and recognition of the Corsican wildcat as a new species of wild cat.
Have you seen the "fox cat"? If not, you can take a look at it here. I'm curious what other facts scientists will discover about it.