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Scientific Name:
Neofelis nebulosa

Conservation Status:
Endangered

Where to see them:
Clouded leopard habitat, next to Sumatran tigers in the Asian forest

Fun Facts:

  • Clouded leopards are actually not a type of leopard; they are more closely related to lions and tigers.
  • Clouded leopards possess extremely flexible hind ankle joints that allow them to descend headfirst from a tree like a squirrel.
  • Clouded leopards have the longest canine teeth compared to their skull size of any modern day carnivore.

Clouded Leopard

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Size
Head/body length: 24-43 inches; tail length: 24-36 inches (total length can reach up to 6 feet!). Female weight: 25-35 pounds; male weight: up to 50 pounds

Range
Southeast Asia, including southern China, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Borneo, Malaysia, Sumatra and the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains

Habitat
Lowland tropical rainforests; clouded leopards have also been recorded in secondary forests, scrublands, grasslands, and mangrove swamps in Borneo.

Lifestyle
Due to the difficulty of studying clouded leopard behavior in the wild, little is known about their lifestyles. Most information comes from captive clouded leopards. Most likely, they live solitary lives in the wild, unless with a mate or with cubs. They are nocturnal and crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk), but recent studies have shown periods of activity during the day. The clouded leopard is highly arboreal, spending most of its time in the trees, but will also hunt on the ground.

Clouded leopards communicate through various methods. Male clouded leopards will mark their territories by spraying urine on objects. Males also have enlarged sebaceous glands in their cheeks, which they rub against objects to scent mark. Vocal communications consist of greeting calls (high-pitched meows and chuffs), location calls (loud meows that can be heard up to 100 meters), and aggressive vocalizations like growling or hissing. Finally, clouded leopards can communicate through claw marking by scratching trees or other pieces of wood with their front claws.

Food
Clouded leopards are carnivores, and therefore eat mainly deer (muntjac), wild pigs, birds, monkeys and other small mammals.

Life Cycle
Female clouded leopards can become pregnant at any point during the year and can give birth every year. Their litters are usually two cubs, but they can have up to five. Mothers give birth in the middle of the night or early morning. Delivery can take up to two hours, with 20 minutes in between cubs.

At birth, a clouded leopard cub only weighs about 6 ounces. Its eyes are closed, it has no teeth, and it is very small and helpless. Mothers lick their cubs to stimulate urination and defecation. At 2 weeks old, their eyes open. And at 3 weeks, teeth and some leg movement begin to show.

Cubs are weaned at 3 months, and cared for by their mothers for up to 10 months. They leave their mothers at 9 to 12 months, reaching sexual maturity at 2 years. Captive clouded leopards can live up to 17 years. While the lifespan for wild clouded leopards is unknown, it is presumably much less than in captivity.

Some of My Neighbors (IN THE WILD)

Asian elephant, Malayan tapir, Sumatran rhinoceros, Malayan sun bear

Population Status & Threats

Deforestation is the main threat against the clouded leopard population. However, hunting and poaching are still high on the list. Hunting has completely wiped out the clouded leopard population in Taiwan. Bones and other body parts are popular in traditional Chinese medicine, and pelts are sold as trophies or clothing. Even clouded leopard cubs are sold as pets in Asian households. Currently, the clouded leopard is listed as endangered; however, with the difficulties in studying wild populations, it is unsure exactly where they stand.

Zoo Atlanta Conservation Efforts
Clouded leopards are one of the most difficult cats to breed in captivity. However, the Species Survival Plan (SSP) is working hard to address captive management issues, stabilize population demographics, improve the population’s genetics, and develop conservation efforts in clouded leopard range countries. The goal is to import new animals over the next 20 years from countries such as Thailand to increase the genetic diversity of the North America zoo-based population.

Also, breeding pairs must be made before clouded leopards reach one year of age in order to avoid aggression between male and females. Currently, Zoo Atlanta is participating in a male clouded leopard behavioral study in hopes to improve breeding in captivity for clouded leopard pairs.