The clouded leopard lives in the trees more than on the ground and lives in the dense forests of southeast Asia and the eastern Himalayas. It is estimated that there are fewer than 10,000 mature clouded leopards left in the wild, with the highest densities on the tropical island of Borneo. They are listed as vulnerable on the endangered species list.
The coat of the leopard is named after the clouds on its coat. The base of the fur is a pale yellow to rich brown with the darker cloud-like markings. The limbs and underbelly are marked with large black ovals, and the back of its neck is conspicuously marked with two thick black bars.
The clouded leopard is a medium-sized cat with an exceptionally long tail for balancing, which can be as long as the body with thick with black ring markings. The clouded leopard has a stocky build and the longest canine teeth of any living feline. The clouded leopard also has relatively short legs and broad paws which make it excellent at climbing tree. The clouded leopard is a solitary cat.
Male clouded leopards are generally twice the size of females. They weigh between 25-50 pounds and are approximately 2.7 feet in length. Clouded leopards can purr like the small cats, but they also have a low, moaning roar, a soft chuffle, a growl, a hiss, and meows as part of their calls.
The clouded leopard hunts on the ground feasting on deer, pigs, monkeys, squirrels and birds. Mating usually occurs between December and March. Males tend to be very aggressive during sexual encounters and to bite the female on the neck during courtship. The pair mates multiple times over the course of several days. After a gestation period of approximately 100 days, females give birth to a litter of one to five cubs. The male then leaves and is not involved in raising the kittens.
Initially, the young are blind and helpless, much like the young of many other cats. The young can see within about 10 days of birth, are active within five weeks, and are fully weaned at three months of age. They attain the adult coat pattern at around six months and become independent after around 10 months. Females are able to bear one litter each year.
Many of the remaining forest areas are too small to ensure the long-term persistence of clouded leopard populations. They are threatened by habitat loss and commercial poaching for the wildlife trade. Skins, claws, and teeth are offered for decoration and clothing, bones and meat as substitutes for tiger in traditional Asian medicines and tonics.
The average length of life for a clouded leopard is about seven years.
The clouded leopard is found in the following countries: southern China, Bhutan, Nepal, northeast India, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, and Bangladesh. It is believed to be extinct in Taiwan, China.