Monday, January 16, 2012

Leopard Cats

Despite their name, leopard cats are not closely related to the big cats known as leopards. Their common name comes from the fact that they have leopard-like spots, though the color and patterns can vary greatly over the different subspecies.
Photo: F. Spangenberg
Leopard cats can be found throughout Southeast Asia from as far north as Russia and Pakistan to the Philippines and Indonesia in the south; they are the most widely distributed of all small Asian cats. On average, leopard cats are slightly larger than most domestic cats and have longer legs.

The preferred habitat for the leopard cat is tropical or subtropical forest, though they can often be found in agricultural areas as well. They are excellent climbers and commonly rest in trees; swimming is possible as well, but leopard cats prefer to avoid water.

Photo: Pontafon
As with most small wild felines, leopard cats hunt a wide variety of birds, small rodents such as hares and shrews, as well as insects such as beetles. They are solitary animals, but males usually have larger individual ranges that overlap the ranges of several females.

Due to the tropical climate, there is no specific breeding season throughout much of the leopard cat’s range, and mating will occur any time the weather is mild enough to support newborns. Most litters consist of 2-4 kittens that will become independent after 7-10 months. Leopard cats are known to live for up to 13 years in captivity.

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