Can you imagine what a cat-fox would look like? Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to visualize. That’s because European scientists have actually stumbled upon the mysterious animal in the wild. Naturally, the Internet is swooning over the latest photos of the kitten hybrid. Take a look at what happened when researchers uncovered the mythological cat-fox in Corsica.
From Folklore To Reality
In Corsica, shepherds have been telling stories about the cat-fox for hundreds of years. However, nobody believed the shepherds’ wacky claims about the giant cat with super sharp teeth and a taste for farm animals until 2008. That’s when the first cat-fox was spotted in a coop of chickens. Amazingly, this discovery inspired scientists to take the whole “cat-fox myth” a little more seriously. In fact, the National Office for Hunting and Wildlife (ONCFS) even captured the evasive cat-fox for themselves to study its habits. What happened next is incredible. The ONCFS confirmed that the cat-fox they found really was the same fabled creature that had tortured Corsican shepherds for decades.
Thankfully, the cat-fox wasn’t harmed when it was caught. When asked about the discovery, ONCFS representative Pierre Benedetti told French media outlet AFP that, “It’s a wonderful discovery.” Benedetti also divulged to AFP that, “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.” So far, scientists believe that there are over 15 cat-foxes living in Corsica alone!
The Cat And The Fox
Although it’s called the “cat-fox” in America, the animal is also called the “ghjattu volpe” in Corsica and the “chat renard” in France. You might be wondering: What’s the biggest difference between house cats and cat-foxes? Shockingly, scientists have proven that the cat-fox is actually twice as long as a regular cat. Plus, it has way bigger teeth compared to a domestic cat. Also, the cat-fox has tinier whiskers and wider ears than your average feline. Not to mention its special tail that features four black rings and a dark tip.
As if that wasn’t enough, the super cute cat-fox has striped front legs, dark rear legs, and a reddish brown tummy. Plus, its thick, shiny fur is useful for repelling insects like fleas, ticks, and lice. Surprisingly, the cat-foxes were located in a very remote environment with plant coverings to help protect them from their greatest enemy: Golden eagles. According to Benedetti, “it’s their size and their tail that earned them the name ‘cat-fox’ across the island.”
A New Discovery
Of course, Corsicans are having a hard time wrapping their heads around the new discovery. For instance, ONCFS member Antone Cecchini shared that “The cat-fox is part of our shepherd mythology. From generation to generation, they told stories of how the forest cats would attack the udders of their ewes and goats.” Now that science has proven that cat-foxes are real, researchers think that it will become a nationally-protected species within a couple of years.
Although researchers are still unearthing its origins, Benedetti hypothesized that the cat-fox could have arrived in Corsica around 6,500 BC. Benedetti also revealed that “if the hypothesis is true, its origins are Middle Eastern.” In order to study the animal, AFP implanted an I.D. chip in one particular cat-fox and found that it was a young male kitty that had been caught before several times. Once it was examined, the cat-fox was let go in exchange for its GPS collar. As you would expect, the cat-fox has gone viral. The proof? AFP’s Facebook video about the cat-fox was viewed over 9,400 times!
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