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Leopard Cat

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Other name(s): Asian Leopard Cat

Scientific name: Prionailurus bengalensis

The basics:
The Leopard Cat is a small wild cat native to much of Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Their range of habitat is varied, and includes tropical forest, scrubland, woodlands, semi-desert and agricultural regions, especially near water sources; they may also be found at heights up to 3,000 metres (9,800 ft). There are eleven subspecies of Leopard Cat.

The Leopard Cat is a wild animal, though it is sometimes kept as a pet and for breeding programs (usually requiring a license). One sub-species, the Asian Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis bengalensis) has been hybridized with the domestic cat to produce the Bengal breed.

The conservation status of the Leopard Cat is listed as Appendix II in CITES (species that are not necessarily now threatened with extinction but that may become so unless trade is closely controlled), and of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Appearance / health:
On average, the Leopard Cat is as large as a Domestic Cat, but there are considerable regional differences: in Indonesia the average head-body length is 46 centimetres (18 in) with a weight of 2.2 kilograms (4.9 lb), while it is 65 centimetres (26 in) and 6 to 7.5 kilograms (13 to 17 lb) in the southern Amur region. The shoulder height is 41 cm (16 in) and the tail is about 40-50% of the head-body length.

The fur color is also variable: it is yellow in the southern populations, but silver-grey in the northern ones. The chest and the lower part of the head are white. The Leopard Cat bears black markings that may be spotted, rosetted, or even forming dotted streaks, depending on the subspecies. There are two dark stripes running from the eyes to the ears, and smaller white streaks running from the eyes to the nose. The backs of the ears are black with a central white spot.

Leopard cats have webbed toes, and are good swimmers.

Diet:
Leopard cats are carnivorous, and feed on variety of small prey, including mammals, lizards, amphibians, birds, and insects. In most parts of their range, small rodents such as rats and mice form the major part of their diet.

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male leopard cat, small children

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