In the animal kingdom, we can meet a large variety of hunters. Although the species are many, one could say that few have managed to stand out as much as the felines . We will describe some of its distinctive features below.
What are felines?
Felines are a group of animals that are differentiated by their short snouts , their slim bodies, and their keen senses (among other aspects). They are found throughout most of the world, with the exception of some territories. Some examples can be found in the tiger , the lion , the cheetah and the domestic cat.
- Characteristics of felines
- Types of felines
- Reproduction of felines
- What cats are in extinction
Characteristics of felines
It is a group of mammalian and carnivorous animals . It is very rare to meet a feline that eats something other than meat, especially the meat of prey for which the creature has a predilection.
They differ from other mammals by a reduced snout, a slim and graceful body, retractable claws, and highly acute senses (of sight, hearing).
They are predators par excellence, possessing highly effective hunting mechanisms.
Although it is a family with a large number of species (approximately 40), many of them are under threat of extinction . This is mainly due to human action on these creatures (hunting, cutting down trees and destruction of habitats).
They are species that can be found in a large part of the globe . The only sectors where felines cannot be found are in Oceania, the arctic areas and some islands of the planet.
” Felino “ is a word whose origins lie in ” Felinus “ , a Latin word. This, in reality, is the result of a composition that involves ” feles “ and ” inus “ . The first of these refers us to ” wild cat “ , and the second of these indicates something from ” viperino “ , ” leonino “ and ” fortune teller “ .
Following their historical evolution, it is known that felines have a common origin with canines ( dogs ). This is said since, in prehistoric times ( Oligocene ), there was a family known as the miacids . Now they are extinct, but they had certain characteristics that are still remembered today, such as the famous ” saber teeth “ . Its expansion was rapid, and little by little, from these groups the felines as we know them were taking place.
Types of felines
In the felidae family , we can find a somewhat extensive classification. But, for didactic purposes, we can reduce it to the following presentation:
- Subfamily Felinae . Here they join the Acynonyx (Cheetah), Caracal , Catopuma , Felis (domestic cat), Leopard , Serval , Lynx , Puma , among others.
- Subfamily Pantherinae . They mentioned here to Neofelis (like the panther nebulous and clouded leopard) and Panthera (large mammals such as lion, jaguar and tiger). Other species are found here, but these are already extinct.
Among the species that we could number on felines, we have the following cases:
It is known to be one of the families with the greatest expansion in the entire globe. However, although we can find felines in ecologically inhospitable sectors such as cities and town planning (expenses find a home there), it is more common to see them in forests . We can also find them in deserts, jungles, savannas and mountainous sectors.
Their diet is carnivorous . They can feed on other smaller mammals (as may be the case with some mice), or on other larger animals (such as the buffalo , the gazelle or the bison). It should be noted that their diet is based, preferably, on animals that are hunted by these cats . That is, they have preference over live prey (they have no inclination towards carrion). It should also be noted that cats ingest herbs and plants only for the purpose of cleaning their stomachs.
Reproduction of felines
Felines, like any mammal, are known to be viviparous . As a general rule , they find their gestation period between late winter and early spring (this, only as a referential period). In a litter it can have up to six young , although this may also depend on the species we are treating. It is also known that although the male may be willing to reproduce throughout the year, his participation in the rearing of the offspring is little . In fact, in some species, it is the mother’s job to actively protect, even, from attacks by the breeding male.
We must understand that feline is a predator . This means that they are precisely one of the most important links in the food chain . An ecosystem does not have the possibility of existing without a regulatory element for predators , which prevent the indiscriminate expansion of other species. The felines are, precisely, predators par excellence ; their evolution has allowed them to become among the most effective hunters in nature.
What cats are in extinction
At the beginning of this article, it was said that among felines there are some species that are in danger of extinction. Some of them would be:
- Snow Leopard.
- Fishing cat.
- Iberian lynx.
- Flat Head Cat.
- Borneo Bay Cat.
- Andean cat.
- Longibando leopard.
- Black Paws Cat.
Among the examples that we can rescue from this curious group of animals, we have the following:
- Domestic : the domestic feline par excellence is the famous domestic cat. It is also usually called only as a cat, kitten or michino.
- Wild : some of the felines that we can find in the wild are: the boreal lynx, the bobcat and the Canadian lynx.
- Large : we have paradigmatic cases such as the tiger, the lion and the jaguar.
- Small : there are some species such as the Andean cat, colocolo cat, polecat and otter cat.
- De la Sabana : we have, as the most paradigmatic cases, the cheetah and the African lion.
- From the Desert : the sand cat or the desert lynx are some of the best known examples.
- From Europe : in the old continent, one can find specimens such as the Iberian lynx. This example becomes very significant, since it is one of the most endangered species on the continent.
- From America : we have cases such as the puma, the Andean cat, the ocelot and the jaguar.
- From Asia : in the Asian continent, we have the specimens of the Asian cheetah, the snow leopard, the Borneo cat and the caracal.
- From Africa : from this land, finally, we could say that the most famous example is found in the African lion. This consists of various species that are found throughout almost the entire continent, being one of the most unique predators of the same.