To which animal group does the clouded leopard belong?

A clouded leopard by a river

A clouded leopard by a river

The clouded leopard is classified as a big cat because it behaves and looks like other big cats, but it is more closely related to the lynx.

Clouded leopards can't purr like small cats do, nor can they roar like big cats do.

The clouded leopard has a different skull shape from other members of the cat family, so it is in a group of its own. Because it is a shy animal that lives in thick  forests in remote places, not much is known about the clouded leopard in the wild.

Appearance and Behaviours

A clouded leopard's skull is a different shape from that of other cats

A clouded leopard's skull is a different shape from that of other cats

The clouded leopard has a body that is about one metre long, plus a 90 centimetre tail. It weighs up to 23 kilograms. Its fur is greyish to yellowish- brown and it has black spots and dashes on its head, legs and tail. The marks on its side look similar to clouds, which gives the animal its name. It has a long tail. 

Like other leopards, clouded leopards are excellent climbers and spend a lot of time in trees.

They can hang by front or back legs from branches. Their ankle joints are so flexible that they can climb down trees head first!

Habitat and distribution (where it is found)

Clouded leopards live in thick forests

Clouded leopards live in thick forests

The animal lives in thick forests in high mountains of Thailand, China, India and Vietnam. The markings of its fur give the animal good camouflage in this habitat because of the deep shade and dappled light under the thick trees.

Diet and hunting

The clouded leopard eats birds, monkeys, deer and goats. It chases its prey, jumps on it and bites its throat until the animal suffocates.

The clouded leopard has the longest canine teeth of any cat, in proportion to its size.

Life Cycle

Clouded leopards live alone but males and females stay together for a little while after mating. Two to four young are born about 100 days after mating takes place.

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Conservation Status

The clouded leopard is now endangered. It has been hunted for food and for its beautiful fur. Its forest habitat is being cut down.

 

 

Read more about clouded leopards: