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Clouded Leopard Neofelis nebulosa (Griffith, 1821)
Sir Stamford Raffles was the first person to describe the clouded leopard, but Griffith was the first to ascribe a scientific name to it. The Malaysians call this animal the “Rimau-dahan” or “Harimau-dahan” which translate as Tree or Branch tiger. It is very elusive and has rarely been seen.

The clouded leopard has been described as having the skull and dentition of a big cat with the body of a small cat. It is the size of a small leopard, with a long body and tail and short limbs. The coat is earthy-brown, pale or a rich yellowish brown. Melanistic or all black individuals are thought to exist. Its name describes the large blotchy cloudlike markings on its body. They have a dark margin and a pale centre. Dark spots cover the head, tail and limbs, and big black spots mark the white or pale tawny underparts. On the cheeks and sides of the head are two black bands. One runs from the eye to beneath the ear, the other is parallel, running back from the mouth. The ears themselves are relatively short and rounded, their backs are black with a greyish central patch.

The tail is incompletely ringed and is almost as long as the body. Long tails are used as counterbalances when climbing.

In comparison to the marbled cat, which it resembles, the skull is long and narrow. The face of the clouded leopard appears to be more like that of a big cat, whereas the marbled cat has a short rounded face. Like the small cats, the hyoid bones which support the clouded leopard’s larynx are bony, this in conjunction with flexible vocal cords, means that they can purr continuously.

The ankle joints of the clouded leopard are notably flexible, although not as much as the margay’s. This is a substantial aid to climbing. Wide strong paws enable the clouded leopard to run along the underside of a branch. They are said to be able to hang by one hind foot from a branch as they lie in ambush.

The eyes of clouded leopards are distinctive in that the pupils are vertically oblong rather than round or linear as in other cats.

The upper canines of the clouded leopard are relatively much longer than any other feline, almost tusk-like. Canines 4.4 cm long have been recorded. A broad gap between the canines and premolars (the anterior upper premolar is absent) enables the clouded leopard to take very big bites. The posterior edge is very sharp, like the canines of the prehistoric sabre-toothed cats. Due to these unique characteristics the clouded leopard has been allocated a genus to itself.

Principal Dimensions
Overall Males Females
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