Nebula – Clouded Leopard

Nebula is a female clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) born in March 2015. Her namesake comes from the beautiful interstellar clouds of dust and ionized gases. Nebula has come to the Foundation to help us learn more about the behavior, health, nutrition, and soundness of these elusive animals.

Clouded leopards are medium-sized cats because they normally weigh only around 40 pounds. In proportion to their body size, this species has the longest canines compared to body size of any living feline, so long that some people have compared them to the extinct saber-toothed tigers. The upper canines may measure 4.0 cm or longer. The clouded leopard is named for its distinctive cloud-shaped markings. They are excellent climbers due to the fact that they are double jointed allowing them to climb not only on the top of branches but also under branches. Their excellent climbing ability gives them an advantage over their prey. Their prey consists of both terrestrial and arboreal mammals, including hog deer, slow loris, bush-tailed porcupine, Malayan pangolin and Indochinese ground squirrel. Observational research also includes mainly primate prey, as well as muntjac and argus pheasant.

Due to its secretive nature, there is very little known of the clouded leopard’s behavior and habits in the wild; most of our knowledge about them stems from captive animals. In captivity, clouded leopards present a reproductive challenge. Unless they are introduced at a young age, there is a high incidence of aggression between males and females, which sometimes results in the death of the female. To date only about 20% of the captive population has reproduced.

The clouded leopard is only found in Southeast Asia, its range traversing the tropical and subtropical regions of southern China, the eastern Himalayas (they have been recorded at heights up to 8,200 ft), northeast India, and southeast Asia. It is extinct on the island of Taiwan. Roughly less than 10,000 live in their natural habitats, while 83 are reported to be housed in the United States. There is a decreasing population trend due to deforestation (their habitat is undergoing the world’s fastest deforestation rate; over 10% in the past ten years) and illegal wildlife trade.

Clouded Leopard Trivia: In China, the clouded leopard is called the mint leopard because its spots look like mint leaves.

 

 Clouded Leopard Statistics:

Body Length Males 2.5 – 3.5 ft, Females 2 – 3 ft
Tail Up to 3 ft
Weight 35-55 lbs
Gestation Period 86-93 days
Litter Size 1 – 5 cubs
Life Span Unknown in the wild, 17 years in captivity
Status Vulnerable