18 Interesting Facts About Clouded Leopards

It’s one of the rarest cats on the planet, and in this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of facts about the clouded Leopard.

1. It’s not the biggest cat around

The clouded leopard is considered to be a medium-sized cat and it ranks number 10 in our list of biggest cat species in the world.

It’s much smaller than the top 3 biggest cats, the tiger, the lion, and the jaguar, and of about the same size as other medium-sized cats such as the Sunda clouded leopard and the Eurasian lynx.

The clouded leopard can have a length of about 107 centimeters (3.51 feet), stands about 70 centimeters (2.3 feet) tall, and has an average weight of between 11.5 and 23 kilos (23.35 – 50.7 lbs).

facts about clouded leopards
These are medium-sized cats / Source

2. This cat lives in Asia

The clouded leopard doesn’t have a huge range such as some of its distant relatives such as the mountain lion or the leopard and lives from the Himalayan foothills through mainland Southeast Asia into southern China.

The countries they live in are

  • Nepal
  • Bhutan
  • India
  • Myanmar
  • Bangladesh
  • Thailand
  • Malaysia
  • China

These animals also used to live in parts of Taiwan and Singapore but have been regionally extinct in these countries.

range of the clouded leopard
Range of the clouded leopard / BhagyaMani / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0

3. The clouded leopard is an endangered species

Unfortunately, this limited range along with various circumstances has resulted in the clouded leopard becoming an endangered species.

It has been listed as such on the IUCN Red List since the year 2008 as fewer than 10,000 individuals are believed to be living in the wild.

clouded leopard endangered
The endangered clouded leopard / Source

4. It’s considered to be a monotypic species

Edward Griffith, a British naturalist, was the first to propose the species as the “Felis nebulosa” after examining skin coming in from China in 1821.

The clouded leopard is considered to be an evolutionary link between the Pantherinea and the Felinaea and is the smallest of the Pantherine cats.

It doesn’t, however, have a lot in common with its Panthera family members, including the leopard, as it has diverged from it about 6 million years ago.

Up until 2006, it was believed that the Sunda clouded leopard was a subspecies of the clouded leopard, but genetic analysis has concluded that both are in fact different species altogether, which makes the clouded leopard a monotypic species.

clouded leopard monotypic species

5. It’s named after its coat

Clouded leopards can easily be recognized by their fur which is usually dark grey and covered with dark and black spots.

They also have these black spots on their head and their ears are black as well. Their huge tails are covered with these spots as well.

Clouded leopard fur / Dr. Raju Kasambe / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0

6. Clouded leopards are great climbers

One of the most significant features of the clouded leopard is its ability to climb trees. They are some of the best climbers of all cats, and that means something as most cats can easily climb trees.

They are not just able to climb trees as well, they can actually hang on branches, even with their backs to the ground.

Their huge tail plays an important role in this ability as it’s used to steer as they balance on branches.

Another one of those remarkable facts about clouded leopards is that they don’t seem to use this ability to actually hunt, but do take their food into a tree to enjoy a relaxing meal.

clouded leopard in a tree
Clouded leopard in a tree / Source

7. They have large and scary looking teeth

One of the most interesting facts about clouded leopards is that they have the largest canine teeth of all cats compared to body size.

The canine teeth are so long that they are about 3 times as long as the socket which they are rooted in and can be up to 4 centimeters (1.6 inches) long!

If you ever want to come across a modern-day saber-tooth, then the clouded leopard is the closest you’ll get to the real thing!

clouded leopard teeth
Its huge canine teeth / Dps Austin / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0

8. Clouded leopards stalk their prey

These cats don’t go around chasing their prey. They use the “stalk and prey” method and actually let their prey come to them.

When that’s the case and their prey is within reach, they use their powerful build to jump on top of the unfortunate animal they are about to devour.

The benefit for the prey (if you can call it that)? It’s over pretty fast because their huge canine teeth can do enough damage to kill in a matter of seconds!

clouded leopard hunting

9. What do clouded leopards eat?

Because these aren’t the biggest cats around, they aren’t capable of feasting on large prey. They are also solitary animals so they hunt alone.

Because of this, they mostly prey on pigs, deer, and even monkeys. These would be the largest prey as they are also capable of preying on small animals such as birds or squirrels.

After eating they usually retreat to the branch of a tree to digest their food and simply relax after hunting and eating.

clouded leopard after eating
After eating / Theonlysilentbob / http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

10. They’re for the most part nocturnal animals

A study concluded in 2005 radio-tagged clouded leopards in a forest in North-Central Thailand and found out that these animals are for the most part operating at night.

This doesn’t mean that they are solely active at night though as they also showed activity during sunset and sunrise periods, most probably while stalking prey during twilight.

clouded leopard in the night
They are active at night. / Source

11. Clouded leopards aren’t lazy

Another interesting conclusion of the same study was that they traveled on average about 1,932 meters each day and were active 58% of the 24 hour period each day.

This simply means that this is one of the more active cats because many cat species are known to be quite, well, actually very lazy. This reflects in their ability to sleep up to 20 hours every day!

clouded leopard sleeping
They usually aren’t this lazy / Source

12. These cats are territorial animals

While it’s unsure how they actually behave in the wild because they are rarely spotted, the study has shown that these cats live in a certain area and never move out of it. This means they are bound by their territory which they mark by spraying urine.

The study conducted in Thailand between 1997 and 1999 has shown that the range of one female was 39.4 square kilometers (15.2 square miles), and the range of one male was 42 square kilometers (16 square miles).

A similar study between 2000 and 2003 including 4 individuals basically confirmed that clouded leopards are territorial animals as both the males and females stayed within their territory during the years that they were followed.

clouded leopard interesting facts
They are territorial cats / Source

13. Male clouded leopards aren’t very romantic

The mating season of the clouded leopard occurs between December and March every year. During this period, males tend to be very aggressive as they are looking for a potential partner.

And when they do, they don’t treat the female clouded leopard gently as well. During mating, they are known to bite the neck of their partner to the point of damaging her vertebrae.

After this rough mating period, the male takes off, never to be seen again, leaving the female alone to raise her kittens.

No, clouded leopards clearly aren’t romantic souls!

Clouded leopard facts interesting

14. It takes 10 days before kittens can see

females give birth after a gestation period of between 87 and 99 days. Between 1 and 5 cubs are born at once, and each of these cubs weighs between 140 and 280 grams (4.9 to 9.9 oz).

The cubs are born completely helpless and even blind. It takes up to 10 days before they can actually see so they are completely at the mercy of their mother.

It takes about 5 weeks before they get active and a total of 3 months before they master all the moves. At 10 months, young clouded leopards are ready to become independent!

Clouded leopard kittens. / Source

15. How long do clouded leopards live?

In the wild, it’s hard to determine the exact lifespan of the clouded leopard because they rarely show themselves.

In captivity, however, the average lifespan of the clouded leopard is about 11 years. The oldest individual on record lived up to 17 years.

facts about clouded leopards
They live on average 11 years / Source

16. They are hunted for their fur

Deforestation of their natural habitat is one of the most significant threats for the clouded leopard population living in the wild.

Apart from losing their home, clouded leopards are also actively hunted for their beautiful fur, which is turned into fashion items and sold on the black market.

Apart from their skins, their teeth and claws are also sometimes used for decorations and their meat and bones for natural remedies.

Yes, clouded leopards have a lot to fear and don’t show themselves for good reason!

clouded leopard facts
Clouded leopards are endangered / Ltshears / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

17. Clouded leopards are bred in zoos

Even though these animals are critically endangered in most of the areas that they live in in the wild, there’s little chance they will go extinct.

Clouded leopards have been kept in zoos since the beginning of the 20th century, and a total of 64 zoos and wildlife resorts all over the world are keeping and breeding clouded leopards.

Breeding these cats isn’t as easy as it sounds though. Researchers have discovered though that keeping them together from a very young age seriously increases the chances of pairs breeding.

When new cubs are born, it’s news because this doesn’t happen too often. Just recently a couple of cubs have been born in a zoo in Miami.

Young clouded leopards / Source

18. This is International Clouded Leopard Day

Once a year, all the zoos and reservations around the world celebrate the International Clouded Leopard Day on August 4.

In case you haven’t heard of this day, it has been a fairly recent tradition as the first time it was celebrated was in 2018!

facts about clouded leopards