Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family:    Felidae
Size:    Length: 4 to 6 feet (1.2 to 1.8 m)
Weight: 30 to 50 pounds (13.6 to 22.6 kg)
Diet: Monkeys, small deer, small orangutans, wild boar, birds, rodents and domestic poultry
Distribution: Asia
Young:  Litter of 1 to 5 
Animal Predators:  Unknown
IUCN Status: Vulnerable
Terms: Young: Kitten or Cub
Lifespan: 11 years in the wild and up to 17 years in captivity. 



·       Sometimes referred to as the modern-day saber-tooth, the clouded leopard’s canine teeth are the largest of all cats in proportion to its body size.

·       The scientific name Neofelis nebulosa means “the new cat with a cloudy pelt.”

·       Clouded leopards are not really a type of leopard—they are distinct from other wild cats and have their own genus.

·       Clouded leopards can only roar very softly, unlike larger cats, who have a loud roar.

·       The tail of the clouded leopard can be up to three feet long, nearly as long as its body.



The name clouded leopard comes from the large markings that run along their back, resembling clouds. They are considered to be one of the smallest  cats. Clouded leopards have a long body with short legs and a bushy tail. When they sense they are in danger, they keep still and are difficult to spot because their markings blend into the environment.  The colouring is yellow-beige with black spots and rims. They have yellow eyes and their night vision is six times more acute than that of a human. 



These distinctive cats spend their time both in trees and on the ground. Clouded leopards are able to run down a tree trunk headfirst and can also climb upside down underneath tree branches, hanging from a branch by their hind feet. They can also move along a branch while upside down with their backs towards the ground.  They live far from humans, mainly  in forested areas of Nepal, southern China, Malaysia, Borneo and Sumatra. 


Feeding Habits

When hunting, clouded leopards either stalk their prey or ambush it from trees, sometimes from the upside down hanging position, dropping onto the prey as it passes underneath them. Clouded leopards hunt animals such as monkeys, small deer, small orangutans and wild boars.  They also eat birds, rodents and domestic poultry.



Clouded leopards are monogamous and mate for life. They usually pair up between one and two years of age.  Mating takes place from December to May, with a litter of kittens born three months later. The tiny kittens (5 to 9 oz/142 to 255 g) are born helpless, with their eyes closed for the first 10 to 12 days of their lives. They have yellow-beige fur with no markings, but develop the markings of an adult at six months. At five weeks, the kittens are active and begin to play with each other. At six weeks, the males begin to grow faster than the females becoming larger and heavier. The kittens nurse for five months, and between 10 to 12 weeks of age will begin to eat solid food. Cubs become independent between nine and 10 months. 



Clouded leopards are solitary except during mating season. They are extremely shy animals and keep to areas that are inaccessible to humans. Not much is known about their behaviour in the wild, but they are believed to be nocturnal. 



Clouded leopards are listed as Endangered under the United States Endangered Species Act. They are believed to be extinct in Taiwan.



Clouded Leopard Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US