Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Clouded leopard

(Neofelis nebulosa)

Habitat and Distribution: Found in deep tropical forests, grasslands, scrub land, coastal hardwood forests and mangrove swamps of Nepal, the Indian state of Sikkim, southern China and south to Sumatra, Thailand, and Borneo.

Size: Up to 6 feet long (including 3-foot tail); 25-50 pounds. Males are larger than females.

Wild Diet: Monkeys, small deer, wild pigs, birds, and rodents; also domestic livestock such as calves, pigs, goats, and poultry.

Predators: Humans; occasionally leopards and tigers                            

Lifespan: Estimated 10-15 years in the wild; up to 17 years in zoos

Reproduction: Clouded leopards breed year-round. In zoos, mating peaks between December and March. Females give birth, usually in hollow trees, to litters of 1-5 cubs after a 3-month gestation period. Cubs weighs less than half a pound at birth, open their eyes after 10-12 days, and climb trees as early as six weeks old. They stay with their mothers for about 10 months, learning how to hunt.

Behavior: Clouded leopards are primarily nocturnal, solitary except during the breeding period, and largely arboreal.They are excellent tree climbers, using their long, heavy tails for balance. They spend their daylight hours sleeping in trees. At night, they hunt by stalking their prey from the trees or the ground. Little is known of the social organization of the clouded leopard.

Meet the clouded leopard cubs!

Conservation

IUCN Status: Vulnerable

Clouded leopards are threatened by habitat destruction due to logging and an expanding human population. In fact, their habitat is undergoing the world’s fastest deforestation rate (1.2-1.3% per year). Humans hunt clouded leopards for their pelts and to protect livestock. Palm oil plantations also pose a major threat to clouded leopards.

Did you know?

  • Clouded leopards are among the best climbers in the cat family. They can climb upside down and hang from branches with their hind feet. They even climb down trees head-first, like squirrels!
  • They have the largest canine teeth relative to body size in the cat family and can open their mouths to about a 100° angle--much wider than other cats. For this reason they are sometimes called the “modern day saber-toothed cat.”
  • Because of their shy nature, nocturnal tendencies and excellent camouflage, wild clouded leopards are rarely seen by people.