The cloud leopard's bold markings blend perfectly with the lichen covered branches of its forest home. Found only in remote areas of India, Nepal, and Southern Asia, it is now extremely rare. Also known as the clouded or tree tiger, the clouded leopard is not truly of the big cats, yet it is too large to be grouped with the small cats. It is the link between the large cats of the genus Panthera, which includes the true leopard, and the small cats grouped in the genus Felis.
Habitat: Within its shrinking range, the clouded leopard inhabits a variety of forests and densely wooded regions, from low country to heights of 8,000 feet. It lives among tree branches, sleeping or watching for prey. At rest, it lies with its forelegs outstretched on the branch and its long tail straight behind it. Little is known about the wild clouded leopard's behavior. Because it lives in inaccessible areas, and because its markings blend into the foliage, it is difficult to spot. It also stays still when danger is near..
Breeding: Nothing is known about clouded leopards breeding habits in the wild, but in captivity they produce cubs from March to May. Litters range from one to five cubs., but usually two cubs are born, each weighing five ozs.. The cubs are blind at birth but open their eyes after 12 days. They are extremely active by the time they are five weeks old. The cubs begin to eat solid food at 10 weeks but are not fully weaned until nine months old. At nine months, they become completely independent of their mother. The cubs are not born with the same coloration as adults; their coats develop the characteristic black rimmed spots when they have reached six months of age.
Food & Feeding: A true carnivore, the clouded leopard eats only flesh. It eats birds and monkeys in the trees, swatting them with its strong paws to stun them and then slashing them with its sharp claws. Its also kills pigs, deer, and goats which it drops on from the trees. The clouded leopard then bites their necks, breaking their spine. On the round, the clouded leopard has to complete against larger tigers and leopards for food. When pushed out of its natural habitat by humans, the clouded leopard kills young cattle and buffalo. Once thought to be a true nocturnal hunter, the clouded leopard is now believed to hunt it prey at dawn and dusk, rather than during the darkness of the jungle night. The clouded leopard stalks its prey in the twilight, when the animal is preparing to sleep or to wake, and so is most vulnerable to attack.
Clouded Leopard & Man: The man been responsible for the decline in the clouded leopard's numbers. Humans have long hunted the cat for its fur, and despite the act that's it is a seriously endangered animal and has international protection, illegal hunting still continues. Man's forest clearance is an even greater threat to the clouded leopard's existence. In many parts of its range, particularly Taiwan, it has been forced into small areas of inaccessible dense forest. Native tribesmen do not fear the clouded leopard
Key Facts: Sizes,
Weight, breeding, lifestyle, related Species
Height to shoulder: 2 1/2 ft.
Length: Body 4 - 4 1/2 ft tail 3 ft.
Weight: 50 pounds, females slightly smaller..
Sexual Maturity: Not known for sure, probably about 5 years.
Breeding Season: Not known in the wild. Cubs born in captivity from March to May.
Gestation: 186 - 93 days
No of Young: Litter up to 1 - 5
Weaning period: 65 months.
Habit: Probably solitary except for the mating season.
Diet: Principally birds and monkeys, but any small or weak mammal.
Life span: 17 years in captivity
Related Species: The clouded leopard is the only species in its genus.
Distribution: Found in India and Nepal,
east through the Himalayan foothills to southern China, and down through
Southeast Asia to Sumatra, Java, and Borneo. Also found in remote
parts of Taiwan.
Conservation: An endangered species. hunting and habitat destruction have reduced the clouded leopard's numbers.
Features of the Clouded Leopard:
Body: Heavily built, with short, sturdy
legs and strong, spoon shaped paws.
Coat: Grayish yellow, marked with large, black rimmed, dark brown colored blotches on it back and flanks. Back spots stripes mark the face. Black stripes run down its back.
Head:: I Narrow with a broad, blunt snout. has the same number of teeth as other cats, but its canines are extremely long..
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