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Marbled Cat - The Clouded Leopard look alike

 

Asia is hMarbled Cat body. Notice the Clouded Leopard like patternome to the extremely secretive and elusive marbled cat. They have are often compared to clouded leopards. One character which they share with the clouded leopard is very long canine teeth. Both bear distinctive marbling pattern on their coats, with the combination of large, irregular shaped dark blotches, outlined with black. Rarely seen or photographed in the wild, they are thought to be the Old World counterpart to the South American Margay. But genetic studies of this cats blood serum, shows that it shares an identical karyotype with Lynx, Panthera and Uncia, leaving this cats evolutionary history somewhat of a taxonomic puzzle.

 

They are similar in size to a domestic cat. Its head and body length is 18 to 24 inches and it weighs 10 to 14 lbs. Its tail is extremely long and bushy. The background color of its fur varies from dark gray-brown through yellowish gray to red-brown. The flanks and back are strikingly marked with large, irregular, dark-edged blotches. The legs and underparts are marked with black dots, and the tail is marked with black spots and rings. There are spots on the forehead and crown, which merge into narrow longitudinal stripes on the neck and irregular stripes on the back. Their face sports a well defined line stripe extending from the corner of each eye and jutting back over the forehead. Eyes are amber or golden in color and ears are small, rounded and have prominent white spots on the backs. Legs break the marbled pattern where they are instead speckled with an irregular shaped dark spot pattern. Face muzzle has three distinct lines on each side of the nose and they have a light grey to white underside. Coat is extremely thick and soft with substantial underfur and they have a very long thick tail, tipped in black.

 

Marbled cats are carnivorous. The diet consists primarily of birds, but also includes squirrels, rats and other small rodents, lizards, insects, and frogs. Marbled cats hunt mostly in trees. In Borneo they may be more terrestrial and forage on the ground.

 

Four kittens were reported to have been born to one captive female. Only one was seen by her keepers, so she may have eaten the rest. Most litters seem to be of two kittens, born after gestation periods of 66 to 82 days. In captivity, oestrus is reported to occur in any month. A kitten’s eyes will be fully opened by about 16 days, and they will be able to walk at 22 days. Less than 100 grams when born, they develop quickly and have a full set of teeth. The coat of the kittens is mottled rather than distinctly patterned.

 

Marbled cats have been found in tropical forests from Nepal through southeast Asia to Borneo and Sumatra, but its presence in parts of the area is known only from single observations. It is thought to spend a lot of its time in trees where it is difficult to see and it may be more widely distributed than is at present known. They are mainly arboreal, relying on the treetop canopy for both shelter and food. In this regard, they are very dependent on the forest cover and suffer greatly from deforestation of their habitat. Range covers Asia, India through Sumatra, Borneo, Malaysia through Indochina. Blood serum analysis shows they are indeed related to the other big cats. Perhaps their size decreased is a way for nature to compensate, allowing them to coexist with the larger cats occupying this same territory such as the Clouded Leopard, Fishing Cat and Jungle Cat. These rare felines prefer prey that also occupies the treetop canopy such as squirrels, fruit bats, birds, mice and rats. They may also feed on fish, reptiles, frogs and insects.

 

Throughout its range it is thought to be rare, although it has also been suggested that the perception of the marbled cat's rarity may be caused by its secretive nature and its preference for remote forest areas. Because of its dependence on forest habitat, the major threat to the marbled cat is habitat destruction caused by felling of trees and the traditional, shifting, method of local cultivation. The marbled cat is also thought to be intolerant of human disturbance, abandoning a forest that is even moderately disturbed. Poaching for skins, bones and meatMarbled Cat face may also be a threat. It is is protected in India and Thailand and, due to their secretive nature, they are not targeted for the Asian fur trade although pelts do occur in the illegal markets. Marbled Cats are seldom kept in captivity and are poor breeders in Zoos with offspring usually hand-reared. Destruction of their forest habitat throughout Southeast Asia is occurring at an alarming rate almost parallel to that of the habitat loss in the Amazon Rainforest basin. Still they are offered protection in only part of their range, dwindling populations have placed them on CITES Appendix I.