Oncilla - The little spotted cat
Like a silhouette
that goes bump in the night, the Oncilla
is one of the smallest
South America cats (4 to 8 pounds). Only the Kodkod is
smaller. This fine feline prefers the high mountain forest and is
found at elevations much higher than the other small competing
species within their territories such as the
and Ocelot. They are similar in appearance to the margay, and can be hard
to differentiate in the wild.
Little is known about the population status as they have
never been studied in the wild, and there is little understanding of
its habitat requirements, density, and coexistence with other small
is another of our Wild Cats with an exquisitely beautiful fur coat. They
are typically tan to tawny in color marked throughout the length of
their body and feet with symmetrical spotted patterns, with brown
spots fading to black in coloring.
Their pattern of rosettes tends to be less dark and more
blotchy than the margay's, its fur is not as thick, its body is more
slender, and its tail not as long.
Eyes are rounded, with golden to brown irises.
The Oncilla is partially arboreal and has an exceptionally long tail
for negotiating the treetop canopies. Its
markings have given the Oncilla the common names of Tigrina, Little
Spotted Cat and Tiger Cat by the local people.
They are agile climbers and excellent hunters, and they make
their meals of
the smaller rodents, shrews, small primates, birds, insects and
Brazil the Oncilla are found in subtropical forest highlands, early
forests and even in the
arid scrub regions.
After a gestation period of about 75-78
days, the female will give birth to a litter of one to three
kittens, though one is the most common. The
kittens will be nursed until about 12 weeks of age at which time
they will begin an exclusive diet of prey items brought to them by
their mother. The kittens will stay with their mother until they are
about one year of age. Sexual maturity for females occurs at about
12-15 months of age, and at 18-24 months for males.
Males are territorial
patrolling boundaries and are known to be aggressive towards females
of the species. Few exist in Zoological Parks and they do not breed
well in captivity with a very high infant mortality rate. Widely
hunted for the fur trade and exploited has taken its toll on the
population. Now offered protection with the exception of Ecuador,
Guyana, Nicaragua and Peru where hunting is allowed, the Oncilla is
increasingly rare and now placed on CITES Appendix I.