The Clouded Leopard is a large cat. It gets its name from the large cloud like spots on its body. These clouds or spots are outlined in black with a yellow-brown or grey background.
Where does the clouded leopard live?
Clouded Leopards live in Southeast Asia in countries such as India, China, Thailand, Laos, Nepal and Viet Nam. Their preferred habitat is tropical and sub-tropical evergreen forests.
How big do they get?
A typical clouded leopard weighs between 25 and 35 pounds and grows to around 35 inches long, not including their tail which can be as long as their bodies. They have a thick, heavy build for a cat and males are often twice as big as females.
Clouded Leopard Author: Frida Bredesen via Wikimedia
Clouded Leopards are excellent tree climbers and likely spend a lot of their time up in trees in the wild. They have large paws and long, sharp claws enabling them to grip tree branches and even hang upside down. They can also climb down trees head-first using their sharp claws. They use their long tail to help them balance while climbing around in trees.
What do they eat?
Scientists don't know a lot about what clouded leopards eat in the wild, but it is likely they eat various animals like deer, birds, monkeys, porcupines, pigs and goats. Since they are such good tree climbers, they probably hide in the trees leaping down on their prey from above. They have very long canine teeth for their size, helping them to take down large prey in a single bite.
Are they endangered?
Yes, the clouded leopard is currently listed as "vulnerable". This is because much of their forest habitat is getting destroyed by deforestation. They are also hunted by poachers even though they are protected by local laws. Because they are solitary creatures and they are difficult to find in the wild, scientists don't know how many of them exactly are alive today, but it is for sure that the numbers are diminishing.
Fun Facts about the Clouded Leopard
Its scientific name, nebulosa, means cloudy in Latin.
They become independent about 10 months after they are born. Their lifespan is estimated at 10 to 15 years.
It doesn't quite have a full roar like some of the big cats (lions, tigers), so it is sometimes considered in its own category of medium sized cat.
It is double jointed allowing it even more agility while climbing trees.
Malaysians call the clouded leopard the "Tree Tiger".