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Leopard Cat
   
   

Fig 1


Fig 2


Fig 3


Fig 4


 

Order : CARNIVORA
Family : Felidae
Species : Prionailurus bengalensis

Head-body length : up to 55 cm
Tail length : up to 29 cm
Weight : up to 5 kg

The Leopard Cat is amongst the smallest of Southeast Asia's wild cats, of which 11 species are currently recognised. This species is highly adaptable, occurring in a wide range of habitats including various types of primary forest, secondary habitats including cultivated areas, and plantations including oil palm.

The image at left shows the typical colour and patterning which comprises large, irregular dark blotches or short stripes on a buff background. The markings vary sufficiently to allow these cats to be identified on an individual basis. The chest, throat and muzzle are white with black markings. 

The species is rarely seen by day, but becomes active as soon as night falls. It is most commonly encountered crossing rural roads. In natural habitats it is known to make use of vantage points, such as fallen trees or termite mounds, to search for its prey. It can climb well, and is a strong swimmer.

Its diet is highly varied and includes large insects, and small vertebrates such as lizards and reportedly amphibians. In oil palm plantations it is known to feed largely on rats.

The Leopard Cat occurs throughout Southeast Asia (Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra, Borneo, Java, Bali, Philippines). Outside the region it occurs in South Asia (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal) and parts of China and Taiwan. 


Fig 1 : Specimen from an oil palm plantation adjacent to primary lowland forest at Merapoh, Pahang, Peninsular Malaysia.

Fig 2 : Another specimen from the same plantation showing the typical golden flanks of the species, patterned with irregular dark blotches.

Fig 3 : A typical scene in countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia : forest is cleared and oil palm is planted. The Leopard Cat appears to be the only felid able to survive in such areas.

Fig 4 : Sheltering at the base of an oil palm during a rainstorm.


References : M3, M5