Species: N. nebulosa
Common Names: Clouded Leopard, Mainland Clouded Leopard
The clouded leopard is found near the base of the Himalaya mountain range, in Southeast Asia and South China. It can be found in different forested habitats, including tropical and evergreen forests.
Clouded leopards typically live alone and are secretive and difficult to observe. They are very talented climbers and can climb up and down vertical tree trunks. They are mostly active at night.
It eats smaller mammals including primates like monkeys and lorises, as well as pangolins and small deer. It also preys upon birds.
Clouded leopards mature at just over two years of age. Breeding usually takes place between December and March. The female will give birth to an average of three cubs, which she raises alone, after a pregnancy lasting just over three months. They become independent after around 10 months.
The clouded leopard’s body measures a little under four feet long, with a tail that adds an addition two to three feet to its length. It is small for a “big cat”, and is distinguished by the large black or grey blotches that pattern its body.
Clouded leopards have very large canine teeth, which can grow nearly two inches long. In proportion to its body, the clouded leopard has the longest canine teeth of any living cat, giving rise to the nickname “modern day saber-tooth”.
The clouded leopard is the state animal of Meghalaya in India.
Clouded leopards have been kept in zoos since the early 1900s, with captive breeding programs to help ensure the survival of the species.
Clouded leopards are most closely related to the “big cats” of the genus Panthera, which includes lions, tigers, leopards and jaguars. Unlike their larger relatives, they do not roar, but instead make meowing sounds, low growls, and hisses to communicate.
The clouded leopard was thought to be a single species until 2006, when genetic tests revealed the existence of a second species, Neofelis diardi (the Sunda clouded leopard). Though they are closely related and look very similar, they have been distinctive species for over a million years, and are more genetically different from each other than a lion is from a tiger.