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Oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus)

  • Oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus)

    Common Name/s: Oncilla  
    Scientific name: Leopardus tigrinus
    Brazilian common name/s: Gato-do-mato-pequeno, Gato-do-mato-maracajá-í, Pintadinho, Gato-macambira

    Quick facts (average values with minimum and maximum in parenthesis)

    Body length (cm): (45-64)a Tail (cm):  (25-33) a Diet: Carnivorous
    Weight (kg): 2.4 (1.5-3) a,b Height (cm):  Home range (km2): (1-25) b
    Litter size: 1 (1-4)c Gestation (days): (75-78) Longevity (years): 11
    Social structure: Solitary
    Activity pattern: Nocturnal and crepuscular/diurnal b

    a (Emmons & Feer 1997); b (de Oliveira & Cassaro 2005); c (de Oliveira et al. 2010)

    Physical description
    This is the second smallest wild cat in South America, with a size similar to that of a domestic cat. This spotted coat has a yellow-gold pelage with dark rosettes arranged mainly on the open side of the body. The rosettes on the back merge into stripes that run from the top of eyes to the base of the tail.

    Habitat and Ecology
    It occurs from northern Costa Rica to Southern Brazil / northern Argentina, occupying a variety of habitats, from those with more open areas to areas with dense forest vegetation. However, it is no where common and populations appear to be localised (de Oliveira et al. 2008).
    As with many other small cats, this species has been poorly studied. Existing data shows that it is a solitary animal, with both diurnal and nocturnal habits and feeds on small rodents, lizards and small birds (Wang 2002).

    Threats and Conservation
    Hunting for its fur and the destruction of forests are the main threats to this species. Populations are severely fragmented and are being reduced severely by habitat conversion to plantations and pasture (de Oliveira et al. 2008). In addition, little is known about the biology of this species, which limits the ability to generate effective conservation strategies. It is classified by the IUCN (International Union for Nature Conservation) as vulnerable and by IBAMA, as threatened with extinction.

    Online links
    IUCN redlist ( presents a summary of current knowledge on distribution and conservation status

    IUCN Cat Specialist Group:

    IUCN Cat Specialist Group species accounts:

    Emmons, L. H., & Feer, F. (1997). Neotropical rainforest mammals: a field guide. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Wang, E. (2002). Diets of ocelots (Leopardus pardalis), margays (L-wiedii), and oncillas (L-tigrinus) in the Atlantic rainforest in southeast Brazil. Studies on Neotropical Fauna and Environment, 37, 207-212.

    de Oliveira, T. G., & Cassaro, K. (2005). Guia de Campo dos Felinos do Brasil. São Paulo, SP: Instituto Pró-Carnívoros/Fundação Parque Zoológico de São Paulo/SZB/Pró-Vida Brasil.

    de Oliveira, T. G., Tortato, M. A., Silveira, L., Kasper, C. B., Mazim, F. D., Lucherini, M., Jácomo, A. T. A., Soares, J. B. G., Marques, R. V., & Sunquist, M. E. (2010). Ocelot ecology and its effect on the small-felid guild in the lowland Neotropics. In D. W. Macdonald & A. Loveridge (Eds.), Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids (pp. 563-584). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    de Oliveira, T., Eizirik, E., Schipper, J., Valderrama, C., Leite-Pitman, R., & Payan, E. (2008). Leopardus tigrinus. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.2. , <>, Downloaded on 10 July 2010.


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