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Large Cats in Scotland?

Large Cats in Scotland?


Postby fhaoilgeal » Sat Oct 24, 2009 6:53 pm

On descending the Mountain Trail on Beinn Eighe early October I saw the usual deer tracks in the mud. Just past a large outcrop of granite - about a 1/3 of the way down, in the mud, a single large paw print - not looking like a dog paw print at all, but more like the pad of a cat. There were no boot prints or other discernible prints in the immediate vicinity - just deer tracks and the single paw print.

Continuing down into grassy and muddier terrain there were two more instances of a single paw print seeming to follow along and next to deer tracks. These paw prints were similar to the print higher up. The paw prints were large and were slightly oval in shape. I had a chill rush through me as I thought I might be looking at a very large cat print...thinking mountain lion...:? but then realized where I was and so concluded that what I was looking at was likely a dog paw print after all.

On getting back to the Old Inn at Gairloch, I picked up a pamphlet on the Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve and on the list of wildlife one might see in the area...were the words, "large cat"...no indication given as to what kind of cat though. I didn't know there were any large cats in Scotland or any large predators for that matter...other than Caberfeidh perhaps :lol: . What kind of large Scottish cat could we be talking about prowling around Beinn Eighe?
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Re: Large Cats in Scotland?

Postby Paul Webster » Sat Oct 24, 2009 8:44 pm

There are wild cats in Scotland fhaoilgeal. They look a bit like a tabby you might have as a pet, but a big bigger. They are very rare and seldom seen. :shock:
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Re: Large Cats in Scotland?

Postby Glenrothes » Sat Oct 24, 2009 9:13 pm

fhaoilgeal wrote: just deer tracks and the single paw print.

Continuing down into grassy and muddier terrain there were two more instances of a single paw print


There cant be many one legged cats in the Highlands - Confused :problem:
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Re: Large Cats in Scotland?

Postby fhaoilgeal » Sat Oct 24, 2009 9:45 pm

Have to agree...unless they've seafaring cats with three peg legs. :D

Given the broken terrain only a small amount of the cover was suitable (muddy enough) for leaving tracks and what tracks there were were of deer hooves and the single paw creature of Beinn Eighe! 8)

I did show the paw print(s) to my mate and he agreed they didn't look like dog prints, but it seems unlikey they were anything else...

Still, if I'd had my wits about me it would have been easy enough to photograph.

Thanks Paul for the description of what one is likely to encounter in the way of large Scottish wildcats!
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Re: Large Cats in Scotland?

Postby sloosh » Sat Oct 24, 2009 10:06 pm

I lived in Gairloch when I was a kid and saw a large black cat with a tail as long as its body skulking along beside a dry-stane dyke. Its height was about half-ways up the wall. Wasn't a wildcat or a wildcat hybrid either -- I was familiar with those. This was something a lot bigger.

tbh, it doesn't surprise me you saw a large paw print.
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Re: Large Cats in Scotland?

Postby Glenrothes » Sat Oct 24, 2009 10:32 pm

fhaoilgeal wrote:Have to agree...unless they've seafaring cats with three peg legs. :D


It wasn't one of Caberfeidh's pussies was it??? :lol:
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Re: Large Cats in Scotland?

Postby fhaoilgeal » Sun Oct 25, 2009 2:26 am

Okay, I know I'm pushing this given that I have no idea what made the paw prints I saw, but a quick google on big cats in Scotland seems to show a surprisingly large number of results. :shock:

If the moderator allows, I'll post two links that caught my attention.

The first seems to be along the lines suggested by sloosh and comes from the Telegraph:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/5924329/Big-cat-filmed-near-military-base-in-Scotland.html

The second I include only because the paw print held up by the policeman (far right) is eerily similar to what I saw (or remember seeing - two quite distinct things, of course!) 8)

http://www.bigcatsinbritain.org/scottishsightings.htm

Regardless, this has been eye opening about fauna in Scotland I never knew existed...whether or not I crossed this particular cat's path...impossible to know, rather unlikely in fact. But I do still remember the chill that ran down my back when I saw the paw print and the thought, 'big cat', entered my wee noggin'. Close enough for me, says I. :)
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Re: Large Cats in Scotland?

Postby Caberfeidh » Sun Oct 25, 2009 10:22 am

Up until the mid 1970s it was perfectly legal to keep a big cat as a pet. You needed a licence for a dog but not for a tiger! It was a ridiculous situation, ( I remember a tiger in a cage in a garage forecourt as a petrol promotion) and it all came to a head when a woman was attacked by a lion - in Trafalgar Square! As a result a law was quickly and perhaps ill-advisedly rushed through parliament (the Dangerous Wild Animals Act), making it illegal to keep a big cat without the proper cages, which would really have meant building a small zoo. All those who had more money than sense and kept these unfortunate animals then foresaw huge bills or fines, so got rid of the creatures. The zoos and safari parks filled up quickly with panthers, pumas, lions and tigers. Those left had to be got rid of so were either put down by vets or surreptitiously abandoned in the nearest wild land. Most would have starved, but cats have a strong hunting instinct and some survived, they have even been breeding, so we have a sparse population of big cats living off deer and other wildlife. A couple of people have been attacked in Wales by black panther-type cats, sheep in Argyll have been killed by them and the cats could live happily unseen in many parts of the highlands. In the Andes and Rockies where pumas and mountain lions live, they can go unseen for years, only the occasional paw print shows their presence.Each individual cat has a huge territory, hundreds of square miles, so we don't have room for many. I saw a large round pawprint in the frost near Braemar, and I know a bloke who swears he nearly hit a leopard-shaped beast on the Linn'O Dee road. Brings a whole new terror to camping, eh?
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Re: Large Cats in Scotland?

Postby fhaoilgeal » Sun Oct 25, 2009 7:17 pm

Thanks, Caberfeidh. An amazing bit of information to fathom. :) So there could well be large cats oot and aboot!

Where I live, near Dallas (Texas), I was quite surprised to learn from the animal removal people ( I have armadillos digging up my back garden ) that we are seeing the reentry of jaguar into our area. Apparently, historically this was part of their range and they now seem to 'be back'. We also have the not so rare bobcat, the very rare mountain lion, and the ubitquitous coyote - not a cat, but responsible for many missing felines in the neighborhood!

We also have nutters who keep exotic animals...tigers, lions, panthers...and more commonly folk who have wolves and raise them or use them to create wolf-dog mixes. All very well and good until one of our tornadoes blows through and sets some of the wee beasties free. A fellow just south of where I live had his tigers confiscated... :shock:

So...as far as anyone knows, Scotland doesn't have any poisonous snakes, right? :lol:

Again, many thanks for the replies to my post...
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Re: Large Cats in Scotland?

Postby Caberfeidh » Mon Oct 26, 2009 11:57 am

fhaoilgeal wrote:So...as far as anyone knows, Scotland doesn't have any poisonous snakes, right?


Ahem... meet the Adder, Scotland's only venomous reptile (unless you count Gordon Brown, of course). A member of the viper family, the Adder has a venomous bite which can induce renal failure, cardiac failure, hypotension, cardiac arrhythmias and neurological damage resulting in Parkinson's disease-type symptoms. You probably wont die because you'll get to hospital, but you'll need dialysis for the rest of your blighted-by-ill-health life.
adder.jpg
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Re: Large Cats in Scotland?

Postby Caberfeidh » Mon Oct 26, 2009 4:40 pm

Re big cat prints - those held by the policeman in the photo didn't look very big, I'm sure a panther/puma/mountain lion would have bigger pugs than that. I suspect a smaller one with big paws - the lynx, or bobcat is a likely culprit. In Norway these are very common, and take a heavy toll of Roe Deer. They are not much bigger than a fox or badger, and no more of a danger to humans. One was captured in the highlands, and spent the rest of its days miserably in a cage in a wildlife park. I'd rather see them (or not see them, as it were more likely) wild in the highlands.
180px-Lynx_Nationalpark_Bayerischer_Wald_01.jpg
180px-LynxInNumedal zoo.jpg
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Re: Large Cats in Scotland?

Postby fhaoilgeal » Wed Oct 28, 2009 1:37 am

Thanks, Caberfeidh, for the information and the photo of the adder. Good to know...I'll be watching where I put my fingers while climbing...especially on sunny days! :)

From googling 'adders in Scotland' (previously only knew about Blackadders 8) ) I see the snake is common everywhere, some places perhaps more than others (Mull, for instance).

Every garden needs a serpent and from what I've read, the adder isn't a such a baddy, especially if respected and left alone. Glad I asked my silly question(s) and got an education about Scottish fauna in return!

Thanks! :thumbup:
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Re: Large Cats in Scotland?

Postby mountain coward » Wed Oct 28, 2009 7:24 pm

Adders are certainly fine if left alone, but you have to be careful to look where you're going - I nearly got hold of one while bilberrying once! But they won't chase you or anything...
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Re: Large Cats in Scotland?

Postby Caberfeidh » Wed Oct 28, 2009 8:34 pm

mountain coward wrote:But they won't chase you or anything...


Ahem... have I not told you of the time I was pursued, dressed only in my nether garmentage, hither and yon the length and breadth of the Braes O' Mar by an increasing number of irascible reptiles, after accidentally rubbing on fluid from a bottle which I believed to be of liniment but which on closer inspection read "Female Adder Mate Attractant Pheremone". I only escaped by swimming the Dee near Balmoral. Even then I was mated with by a large salmonid.
Part of some bizarre experiment by the Zoological Dept at Aberdeen University... :wink:
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Re: Large Cats in Scotland?

Postby skuk007 » Thu Oct 29, 2009 3:07 pm

Caberfeidh wrote: then I was mated with by a large salmonid


I have now got a horrible picture in my head of long-bearded salmon type creatures trying to jump the rapids back to their spawning ground next year, perhaps also holding small hacksaws in their flipper-fingers :lol:
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