Of the South American felids the Kodkod,
called the Guigna by local people, makes its home in the countries
of Chile and Argentina with a limited population found on Chiloe
Island, off the southern coast of Chile. They inhabit the moist
temperate forests of the southern Andean and coastal ranges of Chile
and Argentina. Usually found in coniferous forest, the Kodkod has
also been found in semi-open habitats.
They are the smallest cat species in the
western hemisphere and are extremely reclusive and do not adapt well
to areas disturbed by humans. Normally they would travel and hunt
during the day, but in populated areas, they become nocturnal to
avoid human interference. They are very shy and will only make
passage across roads in the forest under cover of the shadow of
trees. Small size has advantage here as they have not historically
been hunted for its exquisitely marked pelt. The Kodkod is caught in
traps and used as bait for foxes by local farmers. It is the larger
males who frequently take domestic livestock of free-range chickens
and geese while females staying closer to home surviving instead on
small rodents and insects.
This Wild Cat is small, weighing only 4
- 6 lbs and about half the size of a domestic Cat. They are buff or
grey brown in color and are marked with round blackish
spots on the upper and lower parts, with some black streaking on the
head and shoulders. The tail is narrowly ringed with black color and
the backs of the ears are black with white spots. There is a high
incidence of melanism, which seems to increase with latitude.
Guignas may be a subspecies of Geoffroy's cat. Kodkod's have carved
out a special niche taking up residence where there is a scarcity of
larger carnivorous predators and in an area where small rodent prey
Quite rare in the wild and currently
threatened by extensive habitat destruction. In view of their
extremely restricted distribution this must be regarded very
seriously and they are protected over much of its range.
Unfortunately they are not being housed in any zoological facilities
currently, however there are present attempts being made at captive
breeding in Sounth America by private study. Although actual wild
population is not known, their numbers continue to decrease
resulting in their placement on CITES Appendix II.
As with many of the small wild cat
species of the Americas very little is known of the lifestyle of the
small spotted feline. It is believed to be mainly a nocturnal
hunter, presumably preying on small rodents, birds and reptiles. The
cat is a forest dweller and is able to climb well. As with its
lifestyle, little is know of the size of population of the kodkod,
but loss of natural habitat due to forestry and logging activities,
pose a constant threat.