110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
Nature Scenes: Clouded leopards are talented climbers
By Lynn Bowen
posted Mar 31, 2014 - 9:19:35am
Clouded leopards were named for the large, grayish or yellowish cloudlike shapes and spots outlined in black on their fur. These make a perfect camouflage in the leopard’s forest habitat in elevations up to 8,000 feet, from southeastern Asia to southern China, where they live a solitary lifestyle.
Clouded leopards have a 36-inch-long body and a 30-inch-long tail, and weigh from 21 to 51 pounds. The male is larger than the female.
These leopards are about 20 inches tall from the feet to the shoulders. They have short, stout, powerful legs and broad paws that have very long, sharp claws. The hind legs are a little longer than the front ones, making jumping and leaping easier.
These amazing cats have several unique traits. They have the longest tail in relation to body size of any cat! Also, they are the most talented climbers among cats. They can hang from branches by bending their back paws and tail around a branch. Rotating rear ankles allow them to climb headfirst down a tree. They can climb on horizontal branches with their back to the ground. These felines can jump up to 4 feet at a single leap.
Their fantastic eyesight is a wonderful asset for finding their prey of deer, pigs, monkeys, squirrels, porcupines, goats and birds! Their canine teeth are the largest in proportion to body size of any wild cat.
Mating time can be dangerous for the females. The male is so aggressive at this time that instead of just biting the female on the neck to hold her in place, he sometimes severs the female’s vertebrae during courtship. Well, no kittens from that poor female!
The male then leaves for good after mating, and the mother usually gives birth to three kittens after the 90-day gestation period. The young stay with their mom for 10 months. Obviously, the male does not help at all to raise his family.
These cats are on the endangered list due to industrial logging, development of agricultural areas, wildlife traders, hunters and poachers. If they escape all hardships, the clouded leopards’ average life span is 11 years!
— Bowen lives in DeLand. Send email to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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