On the French island of Corsica, a new species of feline has caught the eyes of researchers across the island. Known as ‘cat-foxes’ these creatures resemble a domestic cat at first glance but share features with more aggressive animals, according to the Agence France-Presse (AFP).
“We believe that it’s a wild natural species which was known but not scientifically identified because it’s an extremely inconspicuous animal with nocturnal habits,” Pierre Benedetti, chief environmental technician of the National Hunting and Wildlife Office (ONCFS) told the AFP.
Cat-foxes, called “Ghjattu volpe” in Corsican and “chat-renard” (cat-fox) in French, are known to be found in the northern part of the Mediterranean island by officials from France’s National Hunting and Wildlife Office (ONCFS).
These felines are typically 35 inches long from head to tail, have “very wide” ears, short whiskers and “highly developed” canine teeth, per the AFP.
Other features that distinguish cat-foxes from the typical domestic feline are their dark hind legs, russet-colored stomach and their thick and silky coat. Their fur is known to repel insects such as fleas, ticks and lice.
“It’s their size and their tail that earned them the name ‘cat-fox’ across the island,” Benedetti told the AFP.
The First ‘Cat-Fox’ Was Caught Just over Ten Years Ago
According to researchers on Corsica, they had been playing cat and mouse with this new species until 2008, when one was caught unexpectedly in a chicken coop.
In 2012, research on the felines really hit the ground running, as officials used the cat-fox’s fur to discover its genetic make-up.
“By looking at its DNA, we could tell it apart from the European wildcat, Felis silvestris silvestris. It’s close to the African forest cat, Felis silvestris lybica, but its exact identity is still to be determined,” Benedetti said. “If the hypothesis is true, its origins are Middle Eastern.”
Some things are still unclear about the newest species of feline such as their diet and reproductive patterns. Benedetti thinks the cat could have been brought to Corsica by farmers 6,500 years BC, per the AFP.
Cat-Foxes Aren’t the First Animal ‘Mash-up’ to Make Headlines This Year
At the end of May 2019, a creature deemed as a raccoon-dog made headlines across media outlets. Two of these dangerous animals were loose in an English village at the end of May, according to the BBC.
Residents in Nottinghamshire, England, where the raccoon dogs were loose were told not to try and engage them in any activity as they were “potentially dangerous if approached as they are not domesticated,” Nottinghamshire police said.
In April a hiker in Southern California wandered across what he thought was an abandoned puppy. It turned out the puppy was actually a coyote-pup, per the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Fox News reported in February that some Estonian dam workers thought they rescued a frozen dog, which later turned out to be a wolf.