BBC1 series Big Cats offers an insight into some of the world’s most mysterious and rare feline creatures

IF you are missing the deep-sea creatures of Blue Planet II, these feisty felines are here to make your evenings wild again.

They are the stars of Big Cats, a new BBC nature show that lifts the lid on these elusive animals.

 Exotic cheetahs will feature on the Big Cats documentary on BBC

BBC

Exotic cheetahs will feature on the Big Cats documentary on BBC

Narrated by Doctor Foster actor Bertie Carvel, the makers spent two years filming across 16 countries as the cats fight to get food for themselves and their families.

Despite the title of the series, which starts tonight, it features 33 smaller species, including the cute rusty-spotted cat on the right, which can fit in the palm of your hand.

Series producer Gavin Boyland says: “Those are the ones that people will remember, not that the Big Cats aren’t incredible in their own right.But it turned out the smaller cats are actually the real characters and the real surprise in the episodes.”

Here, Gavin introduces EMMA PIETRAS to some of the animals we can expect to see.

Big Cats starts tonight at 8pm on BBC1.Margay The Maragay can be found in Mexico, the Amazon and Argentina, as well as in other neighbouring countries.

BBC

The Maragay can be found in Mexico, the Amazon and Argentina, as well as in other neighbouring countries.

THE tree-climbing “monkey cat” lives in South America and can clear 12ft in one leap.

Gavin says: “This is one cat that is never going to get stuck in a tree. It can turn its ankles 180 degrees to walk down vertically.”

Canada lynx The Canadian Lynx is known to prey on mice and red squirrels

BBC

The Canadian Lynx is known to prey on mice and red squirrels

THE show features a male hunting hare as it tries to survive the -30C winter in Yukon, Canada.
Gavin says: “The lynx there have huge feet and longer back legs to stay above snow. He turned out to be very grumpy.”

Black-footed cat This is the smallest wild cat in Africa

BBC

This is the smallest wild cat in Africa

IT weighs less than 2lb but this is the deadliest of all cats. Filmed at night in South Africa for the first time, it “creeps up then leaps at least six feet high.”
Gavin says. “The cameraman wasn’t ready and it jumped off the shot.”

Snow leopard The snow leopard is native to the highlands of Central Asia

BBC

The snow leopard is native to the highlands of Central Asia

THE crew travelled to Kibber, the highest village in the world, to film one of these “ghosts of Himalayas”. There they found an old bachelor marking its scent up to 20 times an hour.

Gavin says: “His scent is like a lonely hearts ad.”

Tiger Tigers can reach a length of up to 3.3 metres

BBC

Tigers can reach a length of up to 3.3 metres

THE Sundarbans islands in Bengal, India, are home to one of the most stable tiger populations, with around 100 living there.

Gavin explained that they can drink saltwater and are good swimmers, so they can travel between islands.

Cheetah The cheetah is the world's fastest land animal

BBC

The cheetah is the world's fastest land animal

USING a slow-mo camera on a remote- controlled buggy, the team got a prey’s-eye view of a cheetah’s blunt claws acting like running spikes in Africa. Gavin says: “Cheetahs’ claws are always out – most other cats retract theirs.”

Rusty-spotted cat This cute feline feeds of birds, frogs and lizards

BBC

This cute feline feeds of birds, frogs and lizards

THIS cat has super-senses to make up for its dinky frame, including eyesight six times more powerful than ours. Gavin says: “Despite being cute, it’s every inch the predator.”
It only grows up to 8in tall. It lives on birds, frogs and lizards in Sri Lanka.

Ocelot Ocelots are nocturnal animals

BBC

Ocelots are nocturnal animals

HUNTING on the jungle floors of South America, their spotty coats mimic dappled sunlight. Gavin says: “It allows them to camouflage easily. You can see one, yet if it moves 30ft away it’s like it has vanished into the forest.”

Fishing cat The fishing cat has even been known to prey on wild pics, goats, dogs and poultry

BBC

The fishing cat has even been known to prey on wild pics, goats, dogs and poultry

THESE depend on water and have partially webbed feet and whiskers to detect fish vibrations. In the show, two kittens get fishing tips from their mum in Bangladesh.
Gavin says: “They got on with it quite quickly.”

Caracal The caracal can be found in very dry regions across the globe

BBC

The caracal can be found in very dry regions across the globe

THE “pounce specialists” of Africa and south-west Asia hunt at night, and are not picky about their meals, sometimes eating domestic livestock.
Gavin says: “Their ears have long tufts of hair, which give them lots of character.”

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Pallas' cat These wild felines are solitary and territorial creatures

BBC

These wild felines are solitary and territorial creatures

THE covert masters hunt by “periscoping” their prey in Mongolia’s grasslands.

Gavin says: “They crawl on their belly as flat as possible then peer above a boulder.”
This is the first time they have been filmed professionally in the wild.

Tiny baby tiger cub sneaks up on its mum and scares the living daylights out of big cat parent

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