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Clouded Leopard Facts At A Glance
- Other Name(s): Tree tiger, Mint leopard
- Scientific name: Neofelis nebulosa
- Type of Animal: Mammal
- Animal Family: Felidae (the cat family), subfamily Pantherinae
- Where Found: Southeast Asia & parts of China
- Body Length (excluding tail): Males: 81 – 106 cm (32 – 42 in.); females: 61 – 94 cm (24 – 37 in.)
- Height: Up to 55 cm (21.5 in.)
- Weight: Males: up to 23 kg (50lb), females: up to 14 kg (30 lb.)
- Conservation Status: Vulnerable
- Other interesting Clouded Leopard facts: Closely related to the Sunda Clouded Leopard, which is found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. They were considered to be the same species until 2006.
Clouded Leopard Video
Watch the video below to see clouded leopards in action:
Meet The Clouded Leopard: Introduction
The clouded leopard is a secretive jungle cat. It lives alone, and is rarely seen in the wild. Most of what we know about the clouded leopard comes from observing captive animals.
The clouded leopard is found in forests in Southeast Asia and China. It has several adaptations for forest living, including an extra-long tail and flexible paws that enable it to climb head first down trees.
There are 3 subspecies of clouded leopard. Neofelis nebulosa macrosceloides is found from India and Nepal in the west east to Myanmar. Neofelis nebulosa nebulosi is found from Myanmar in the east to China.
Neofelis nebulosa brachyuran, which was found in Taiwan, is now thought to be extinct.
What Does A Clouded Leopard Look Like?
The clouded leopard gets its name from the large, cloud-like patterns on its pale yellow coat. It also has dark spots and lines on its face, legs and tail.
The clouded leopard has a very long tail. In fact it’s longer than that of any other cat in relation to body size. The tail provides balance when the clouded leopard is climbing in the trees.
Another adaptation for climbing is the clouded leopard’s broad, flexible paws. They are able to rotate in order to allow the clouded leopard to climb head first down tree trunks. The clouded leopard has also been observed climbing upside down, and hanging from branches with its hind paws.
Clouded Leopard Size & Weight
The clouded leopard is a medium-sized wild cat. It is significantly smaller than all of the other members of the cat subfamily Pantherinae except for the closely-related and similarly-sized Sunda clouded leopard.
Male clouded leopards are substantially larger than females. They can grow up to 106 cm in length and 23 kg in weight. Females grow up to 94 cm in length and weigh up to 14 kg. The male’s tail grows up to 91 cm, the female’s 82 cm.
Clouded Leopard Teeth
The clouded leopard has the largest canines in proportion to body size of any cat. The upper canines can grow up to 2 inches (5.08 cm) long.
The clouded leopard can open its jaws at a 100% angle!
Clouded Leopard Family & Related Animals
The clouded leopard is a member of the Felidae (cat) family. This family is divided into two subfamilies: Pantherinae and Felinae. The clouded leopard is a member of the Pantherinae subfamily.
The clouded leopard is in the genus Neofelis, which means ‘new cat’. The only other species in this genus is the Sunda clouded leopard. The clouded leopard and Sunda clouded leopard are closely related. It was only in 2006 that scientists identified them as being separate species.
Is The Clouded Leopard A Leopard?
Despite its name, the clouded leopard is not a type of leopard. Although both the clouded leopard and the leopard are members of the Pantherinae subfamily, they are not closely related.
It is thought that the clouded leopard ‘branched off’ from the other members of the Pantherinae subfamily over 6 million years ago.
Is The Clouded Leopard A Big Cat?
By most definitions, the clouded leopard is not a ‘big cat’. The term is usually used to refer to the four members of the Panthera genus that are able to roar, namely the lion, tiger, leopard and jaguar.
(The snow leopard is the only member of the Panthera genus that is unable to roar, and is therefore not a ‘big cat’.)
However, the term ‘big cats’ is not scientific. It is occasionally expanded to include all the members of Pantherinae, and also non-Pantherine cats such as cheetahs and cougars.
Where Do Clouded Leopards Live?
Clouded leopards are found in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India and Nepal eastwards to China, where they are found south of the Yangtze River.
Clouded leopards are found in the following countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia (Peninsular Malaysia), Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam.
Clouded Leopard Habitat
The clouded leopard is usually found in tropical forests. It is also occasionally found in grasslands and mangrove swamps.
Clouded Leopard Diet
The clouded leopard is carnivorous. Its diet includes a wide variety of animals, including mammals such as gibbons, hog deer, barking deer, slow lorises, brush-tailed porcupines, Malayan pangolins and Indochinese ground squirrels. It will also eat birds.
The clouded leopard is able to bring down animals bigger than itself using a combination of stealth, strength, and those extra-long canine teeth!
Clouded Leopard Lifestyle
The clouded leopard is primarily nocturnal or crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk). It is an excellent climber, and spends much of the day resting in the trees. However, it comes down to the ground at night in order to hunt.
If there are tigers or leopards in the same area, the clouded leopard is thought to spend more time in the trees, and to only come down at night.
The clouded leopard is solitary, and only seeks out other clouded leopards in order to mate. Although not much is known about the lifestyle of a clouded leopard, it is thought that, like other cats, it is territorial and uses scent marks to mark out its territory.
The clouded leopard communicates using a number of sounds, including mewing, growling and hissing. It also makes a low, breathy snorting sound called prusten. This sound, which is also made by snow leopards and tigers, is a non-threatening greeting. It is used by courting pairs and by mothers comforting their cubs. It is also known as ‘chuffing’.
Captive cats and their keepers have been known to chuff at one another as a greeting!
Clouded leopards reach sexual maturity at 2 years of age. Males and females come together for a number of days. Females are pregnant for around 90 days, and usually give birth to litters of 2 or 3 cubs. Males play no part in the rearing of the young.
At first, the cubs are helpless. Born blind and toothless, they are totally reliant on their mother’s care. After 10 days their eyes open, and in around 3-4 months they are fully weaned (no longer drinking their mother’s milk). They will stay with their mother for 18 – 24 months.
Are Clouded Leopards Endangered?
Although the clouded leopard is found across a wide area, its population is extremely scattered and scarce. It is rated by the IUCN as ‘vulnerable’.
The clouded leopard is threatened by habitat loss; the area in which it lives has one of the world’s fastest deforestation rates.
Hunting is also responsible for the animal’s Vulnerable status. The clouded leopard is hunted not just for its fur, but also for its bones, which are used in medicines, and its meat. Some clouded leopards are also taken for the pet trade.
If you want to help endangered cats, get in touch with a local charity, such as the Big Cat Sanctuary, to see what you can do!
Top Ten Clouded Leopard Facts For Kids
- The clouded leopard has a longer tail in proportion to body size than any other cat.
- The clouded leopard has longer canine teeth in proportion to body size than any other cat.
- The clouded leopard is able to climb down trees head first using its swiveling paws to grip onto the trunk.
- It has also been seen climbing upside down and hanging from branches with its hind legs.
- The clouded leopard gets its name from the cloud-like patterns on its coat.
- The species’ conservation status is ‘Vulnerable’.
- It is threatened by deforestation and by hunting.
- Mid way in size between small and big cats, the clouded leopard is seen by some as the ‘missing link’ between the two cat groups.
- The clouded leopard is found in Southeast Asia
- Until 2006, the clouded leopard and Sunda clouded leopard were considered subspecies rather than different species.
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