Fishing cats and their distinctive features

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The Fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus (Carnivora: Felidae) is the second largest endangered wild cat inhabiting hill country wet zone and dry zone forests in Sri Lanka. They can be also found in the Himalayan foothills, along India’s east coast, Indonesia’s island of Java and Pakistan. The fishing cat is considered as a medium sized cat categorized along with some other cat species under the umbrella term Prionailurus, and the members of this family are characterized by noticeable stripes and spot patterns on the head, face and body. Fully grown male is about 70-76 cm in length (body length) and weights 8 to 14 kg, whereas the female weight from 5 to 9 kg.

There are few identical features that separate this magnificent cat from other small cat species. Specially they have camouflaging grizzled grey soft and covered with unique spots and stripes. Six to eight black lines run from the forehead to the neck and break up into shorter lines and longitudinal spots on the shoulders. Fishing cats has broad head with vertical markings above eyes. The flattened nose is a deep brick color. Their strong tail  marked with about six or seven incomplete dark bands, distinguishes it from the leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis). The double coated fur has water resistant ability that is important to keep the body dry while diving into the water to catch fish. Their legs are short but equipped with long claws that function as fishing hooks. These identical features make them excellent swimmers and hunters in water rich habitats.

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