Clouded Leopard

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The Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) is a variety of big cat found in dense tropical forests in southeastern Asia, including parts of China, Nepal, Bhutan, Malaysia and Indonesia. The Bornean Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi), is a separate species found on the Sumatra, Borneo and the Batu Islands. It is thought to be extinct in Taiwan.

Contents

Key Facts

  • Body Length(mm): 750-1100
  • Weight: females 12-15 kg.; males up to 22 kg.
  • Litter Size: 2-4 average
  • Life Span: 11-17 years in captivity; unknown in the wild
  • Status: Endangered

Description

The clouded leopard has a unique skull structure and has the longest canine teeth in proportion to its body size of any feline species. These characteristics and other differences from other felines place it in its own genus. The clouded leopard has short legs, flexible ankle joints, and a very long tail, features which make it one of the best tree-climbers, even enabling it to climb upside down beneath branches and hang from them by its hind feet.

Perhaps the most noteworthy feature of the clouded leopard is its unusual pattern of cloud-like spots that provide it with camouflage in its forest habitat. Hunting for its pelt has been and continues to be a significant contributing factor to this cat's endangered status.

Due to the solitary and secretive nature of this cat, little is known about the social structure, behavior, and activity patterns of clouded leopards in the wild, and much of what is known is based on observations of them in captivity. They usually live in dense tropical rainforests below an altitude of 7000 feet, though they have been seen in at higher altitudes (up to 9000 feet) and in other types of habitat, including swampland, dry woodlands, and grassland.

The clouded leopard tends to be an opportunistic feeder, and will eat deer, goats, reptiles, wild pigs, birds, primates, and fish. They sometimes ambush their prey from the trees by hanging on with their hind legs and falling on them, though they most often hunt on the ground at night.

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References

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