Jungle Cat - Junglee Billi - Felis chaus
Common names: Hindi - Jungli Billi, Ban Bilao, Khattas; Bengali - Wab, Ban Beral; Tamil - Kadu Poona; Kannada - Bokana Kotti
Gestation: 63-68 days Litter Size: 2.89; range 1-6
Inter birth Interval: 93-131 days
Age at Sexual Maturity: 12 - 17 months
Longevity: up to 14 years
Principal Threats: Jungle cats do well in cultivated land and artificial wetlands. However, reclamation and destruction of natural wetlands still pose a threat to the species, as density in natural wetlands is generally higher.
Jungle cat, botanical name (Felis chaus), is found in Haryana, rest of India, Burma, Thailand, South Asia and the Middle East. The extensive range of the this felid includes forests, woodlands, scrubby grasslands and reed beds where the varied habitat has resulted in noticeable differences, including variations in coloration and size. The cat's background coloration varies from a sandy-yellow through a dark sandy-brown to a tawny red, with black varieties in some areas of the habitat. In general, jungle cats living in the northern parts of the range have a darker coat and tend to have more gray than those occurring in the southern and eastern portions of its range. Although typically void of distinctive body markings, they are sometimes highlighted with stripes on the upper parts of the legs and a short ringed tail with a black tip. The tips of the dark colored rounded ears have black tufts with a lighter spot on the posterior surface. There is a marked variation in weight throughout the range of the jungle cat.
These diurnal felids hunt hares, small mammals, frogs, reptiles and insects, but have also been known to take down the young of small ungulates, including axis deer. Keen hearing, resulting from the large and relatively tall ears, help the jungle cat locate prey in areas of dense vegetation. Stories of these agile felids jumping up to 6 feet in the air, to capture birds flying overhead, are common.
Reproduction in the jungle cats varies throughout its range. They appear to have no distinct breeding season and reproduce throughout the year. Males have large territories, overlapping the territories of several solitary females, and apparently that of other males also. Loud vocalizations, by amorous males and the estrous females, and scent marking assure that prospective mates locate each other. The estrous period last up to 5 days with one or more males often stalking a female until she is ready to breed. Kittens are distinctively different in coloration from the adults having black tabby markings on their coats and are generally much more gray. The tabby markings of the kittens often create a stripe pattern which disappears in adults. Kittens are generally weaned by 8 weeks, separate from their mother by 3 months and reach sexual maturity by the age of 18 months.
There is some speculation that the jungle cat is part of the lineage that includes the domestic cat. Similarities in color, ear tufts and the period when domestic cats are believed to have originated suggest that there may be some connection.