Clouded Leopard - Neofelis nebulosa
( Griffith, 1821 )



Clouded Leopard Photo
Clouded Leopard Location Map
Clouded Leopard Photo Clouded Leopard Location Map Asia

Subspecies: 4
Est. World Population: Unknown


Body Length: 36 - 42 in
Tail Length: 30 - 36 in
Shoulder Height: 18 - 21 in
Weight: 40 - 66 lbs

Top Speed:
Jumping Ability: 15 ft (Horizontal)

Life Span: 10 - 13 yrs in the Wild
Life Span: 12 - 17 yrs in Captivity

Sexual Maturity: 24 - 36 mo (Females)
Sexual Maturity: 24 - 36 mo (Males)
Litter Size: 2 - 5
Gestation Period: 85 - 95 days

Clouded leopards are so named because of the large, blotchy, cloud-like markings on their body, head, legs and tail. There may also be some smaller, solid spots on the head and legs. The rather long, slim body is usually greyish brown to yellowish brown in colour, and the cheeks and neck are striped with black. The underparts and inner sides of the legs are white or pale tawny in colour. The long and rather narrow head has a broad muzzle; irises of brownish yellow to greyish green; and ears that are short, round, and dark on the backs with white central spots. The legs are rather stout, with the hind legs noticeably longer than the front, and broad paws. The long, well furred tail is marked with rings and is tipped with black or grey.

Flexible ankle joints enable clouded leopards to climb down trees head first, a trait shared with the margay Leopardus wiedii, of Central and South America. Their upper canines are relatively longer than those of any other living cat, and may be an adaptation to holding onto prey caught in the trees, a more difficult feat than catching it on the ground.

Taiwan Clouded Leopard - Taiwan (REGARDED AS EXTINCT)
- Malay Peninsula, Sumarta, Borneo
- Nepal, East India, Bangladesh
- South China, Indochina

The clouded leopard is usually characterized as being most closely associated with primary evergreen tropical rainforest, but it also makes use of other types of habitat. Sightings have also been made in secondary and logged forest, as well as grassland and scrub. In Burma and Thailand, its presence has been reported from relatively open, dry tropical forest. The clouded leopard has been recorded from mangrove swamps in Borneo and has a wide distribution in China, south of the Yangtze, apparently occurring in a variety of forest types, but there is no information on habitat preference or ecology across this large portion of its geographic range. It has been recorded in the Himalayan foothills up to 4700 ft, and possibly as high as 10,000 ft.

Biomes: tropical rainforest, tropical deciduous forest, tropical scrub forest

Oriental: The clouded leopard is found in the southeastern part of the Asian continent, from Nepal eastward to Taiwan, including southern China, and southward to the island of Java, including Burma (Myanmar), Indochina, Malaysia, and the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.

Life Cycle:
Births in captivity have occurred from March through August but animals having a tropical distribution often don't have a well defined reproductive season. Clouded leopards are thought to give birth in nest-like structures above ground in hollow trees, but ground level dens in thick vegetation have also been found. One to five, usually two, kittens are born after a gestation period of 86 - 93 days. Kittens weigh 5 - 6 oz at birth, their eyes open after 10 - 12 days, they begin to walk at 19 - 20 days, take solid food at about 10 weeks and will nurse for up to five months. Full adult colouration is attained around six months, and independence from the female occurs by ten months of age. Sexual maturity occurs between 24 and 36 months, and captive animals have lived to 17 years.

Food & Hunting:
The clouded leopard is a carnivore feeding on deer, cattle, goats, wild pigs, reptiles, birds, and monkeys. It hunts by day or night, either by stalking its prey on the ground or by ambushing it from the trees.

Clouded leopards are solitary except during the breeding season. Largely arboreal, clouded leopards are one of the best tree climbers; they use their long tail and broad paws for balance and grasp. These animals are shy and prefer areas that are inaccessible to humans; hence, little else is known of their social behaviors.

Clouded leopards are listed as an endangered species due to overhunting and deforestation. The animal is hunted for its striking pelt (it takes 20 - 30 cats to make one full-length fur coat) and for its teeth and bones. Its habitat is being destroyed through logging as well as by advancing human settlements. The clouded leopard is generally protected under game laws and fully protected in parks and reserves. Captive breeding programs have been attempted, but so far they have been unsuccessful due to the small gene pool available in captive as well as wild individuals.

Other Details:
The clouded leopard is in no way related to the true leopard. The name for this cat in Malay is "rimaudahan" which means "tree tiger." In China this cat is called the "mint leopard"--the irregular blotches on its coat are thought to resemble the shape of mint leaves.

Many scientists consider Neofelis nebulosa to be the evolutionary link between the big cats and the smaller cats. The skull and teeth of the clouded leopard are similar to the big cats but its body and other traits are like those of the smaller cats. Thus it has been placed in its own genus.

Brakefield, Tom. Big Cats: Kingdom of Might. Stillwater, MN: Voyageur Press, 1993
Nowak, Ronald. Walker's Mammals Of The World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999

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Database Last Updated: 31 Dec 1969

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