The clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) is a distinct species from the leopard. They are extremely rare animals found in Southeast Asia, living in and out of trees in the rain forest. So little is known about them that it isn't really even sure whether they are solitary like most felines.

They weigh 35 to 50 pounds, smaller than leopards, and are identified by their unusual fur pattern -- brown blotches with black edges on a golden background. They are thought to leap onto prey from tree branches and will eat nearly any animal; their jaws have the widest space behind the canine teeth of any feline and proportionally the longest canine teeth, so their bite is very strong. They are endangered due to habitat destruction, and being hunted for their fur; they also don't breed well in captivity (the couple will tear each other to bits unless they've known each other since they were very young).

Clouded leopards (Neofelis nebulosa), contrary to their name, are not actually leopards. They are, in fact, a completely different cat species and are an evolutionary link between the big cats and the little cats. Clouded leopards and snow leopards make up the cat group known as 'medium cats'.

Clouded leopards have tawny brown or tan coats, marked with irregular, cloudlike blotches (hence the name). They can grow up to a meter long from nose to rump, and weigh around 20kg. They have the longest canine teeth in proportion to their body size of any living cat. Clouded leopards also have long, flexible tails that aid in their balance.

Clouded leopards can be found in south-east Asia, the Himalayas, China and India. Another species of clouded leopard lives in Borneo and Sumatra. They are largely solitary, nocturnal animals but have been observed during the day.
Clouded leopards are superb climbers, and prefer to live in rainforest treetops. It has been known to run down tree-trunks headfirst. The preferred hunting style of the clouded leopard is actually to drop on their prey from the nearest tree.

Being carnivores, clouded leopards prefer to eat small to medium animals like macaques, deer and domestic livestock.

Clouded leopards reach sexual maturity at about two years of age. Female leopards bear one litter of 2-5 cubs each year after a 90-day gestation period. Captive breeding programs are incredibly difficult to establish because of the hostility of male clouded leopards.

Clouded leopards are currently classified as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List. They are hunted for their unique pelts and their teeth and bones, for use in traditional medicine.


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