Israeli rodent and cat

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Thanks to Jon for guiding me in how to add images. These are from earlier this month in Israel. The rodent was one of four or five that emerged after dark from holes in the stone wall shelters at Borot Lotz/Lotz Cisterns campsite, near the Israel/Egypt border in the Negev. They took quite a liking to running about under my tent and were easily tempted into view with some cake crumbs. I’ve got a few other photos of them that I haven’t sorted yet but the one below gives a good impression of the animals. From Aulagnier et al, I’m thinking maybe Libyan Jird but I have no previous experience with this group of species. Is anyone able to pass comment?

The cat (a male), posted just for interest, was in an agricultural area a few km NE of Kiryat Gat, 50 km or so south of Tel Aviv. I don’t want to make too much of this and I very much assume it is largely of Feral Cat heritage. It does show a resemblance to some images of African Wildcat, but I doubt that very much can be done, beyond supposition, to establish its ancestry any further.



  1. Jon Hall 6 years ago

    Nick, how big was the rodent? The tail looks good for a Jird but they are pretty chunky things … a medium sized rat. If it was more mouse-sized then I will take a closer look but otherwise I’d say it was a Jird. The cat looks good to me too but I will leave it to the cat experts to pronounce on that – not sure what the status is of Felis sylvestris in Israel.

  2. Author
    Nick Littlewood 6 years ago

    Hi Jon,

    I judged the rodents as being very roughly halfway in size between Wood Mouse and Brown Rat. This is partly what led me to looking at Jirds more than Gerbils. Maybe someone familiar with the group might be able to have a good stab at a likely ID based on a combinaton of the photo and likliehood of presence at this particular location (a picnic area/campsite at around 950 m altitude in arid rocky desert)….


  3. RICHARD WEBB 6 years ago

    The cat is appears to be what Ferguson calls Palestine Wild Cat Felis silvestris tristrami in The Mammals of Israel (also recognised as a sub-species in HMW volume 1) and which at the time of the book was said to be ‘common throughout most of the country’. It is restricted to Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. The photos demonstrate almost all the features listed in the book including ‘The upper limbs are marked with broad dark bands. The inner side of the upper forelegs have a distinct black band. ….. The tail is relatively long, concolorous with the back, but with several blackish rings and a black tip’. It says they may be confused with young Jungle Cats but the tail is far too long for that species. It also has many of the other features listed including paler underparts. I think it is far more likely to be a wildcat than a feral cat although it may of course be a hybrid. Richard

  4. Charles Foley 6 years ago

    I agree with Richard on the cat. The long legs and pink behind the ears suggests either pure wild or mostly wild.

  5. Author
    Nick Littlewood 6 years ago

    Many thanks for the comments folks, very much appreciated.

    Interesting that The Mammals of Israel (which I note was published in 2002) says that tristrami is common through most of the country. I had thought that in Israel, it was in a comparable position to Scottish Wildcat, though that admittedly was based on heresay. Perhaps tristrami, or animals that are largely of tristrami heritage, are still better established than I had realised.


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