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Iriomote Cat - Mayailurus iriomotensis

By: C.M.Shorter

The Iriomote Cat, only recently discovered has one of the most restricted distribution of all Wild Cats in the world with population count believed less than 100 in the world. Classification is still being debated to this day, with some scientists considering them to be a sub-species of the Leopard Cat. The Iriomote Cat was discovered only as recently at 1965. These cats take their name from their homeland and are found only on the Island of Iriomote, a small island East of Taiwan.

Habitat is restricted obviously and Iriomote Cats are found only in the lowland subtropical rainforest. This cat is also one of the small "Wild Cats" with average weight of 6-10 lbs. Typical of many of the small cats in our TigerHomes Educational Series - Wild Cats of the World, they are always found near forest waterways taking prey of small rodents, bats including fruit bats, and birds such as night heron, quail, pigeons and doves, fish, frogs, reptiles, insects and crabs. Iriomote Cats are solitary by nature and nocturnal hunters, partially arboreal and known to be very good swimmers throughout the dense mangrove and estuaries of their island rainforest. They even frequent the sandy beaches in search of tasty aquatic dinner fare, where they have been seen catching mudskippers and crabs on the shore.

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Iriomote Cat
Iriomote Cat
Extremely rare, the Iriomote Cat has a lifespan in the wild of 15 years. Their coat is dark brown marked with spots that blend into longitudinal striped bands extending down their backs. Relatively the size of a domestic cat, they have long bodies, with short legs and tail. White markings pattern their underside with rounded ears each sporting one white spot on the back being "False Eyes" nature provides as a protective survival feature for many of our Feline species even the Tigers, one of the greatest predators of our planet. The Iriomote Cat has eyes that are striking of amber or a yellowish-golden color. Hunting activity is primarily done in the dusk and dawn hours making them crepuscular and they are terrestrial, but agile and excellent climbers with some hunting done in the treetop canopy.

Iriomote Cat - Nocturnal Eyes
Self Portrait
Nocturnal Eyes
The Iriomote Cat is a good example of an animal which may survive through Ecotourism with this cat promoted very successfully as a main source of appeal by the Iriomote Island tourism industry. Threatened throughout their range and restricted to a single population, they have been fully protected since 1967 and placed on CITES Appendix II. Japan's Environmental Agency and the Iriomote Wildlife Center have joined forces declaring part of their habitat a wildlife protection area. University students using radio telemetry to track the cats, they have established feeding and monitoring programs, and there is a public awareness campaign including numerous signs asking motorists to drive carefully throughout their island habitat.

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Scientific Name: Mayailurus iriomotensis
Common Name(s): Iriomote Cat
Range: Island of Iriomote Shima, Japan
Average Weight: 3 - 4.5 kg (6.5 - 10 lbs)
Length: 70 - 90 cm (28 - 35")
Diet: Carnivorous. Small rodents, bats including fruit bats, and birds such as night heron, quail, pigeons and doves, fish, frogs, reptiles, insects and crabs.
Gestation Period: 63-65 Days
Cub Maturity: 6 - 8 Months
Cubs Per Litter: 1 - 4 Kittens.
Lifespan: 10 - 12 years.
Predators: Threat of vehicular death (10 annually average lost)
Social Structure: Solitary.
Territory Size: 5 - 9.5 km (3 - 5.5 miles)
Conservation Status: Placed on CITES Appendix II since 1967

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