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Kodkod


The kodkod or guiña (sometimes hûina or huiña) is the smallest South American cat, about half the size of a large domestic cat. It is said to be very similar in appearance to Geoffroys cat. Grey-brown/buff in colour, the kodkod is marked with round black spots with some streaking on the head and shoulders.


Zoological name: Oncifelis guigna


Species: Oncifelis and Leopardus genera have been proposed for the kodkod, which used to be classified as a Felis species. Scientific evidence suggests that the kodkod, Geoffroys cat and the pampas cat are more closely related to each other than they are to any other cat species (C. Wozencraft: A Taxonomy of the Felidae. Cat News, 18, 1993, p.24).


Two subspecies of the kodkod have been described: F. (O.) g. guigna and F. (O.) g. tigrillo. The former has spotted feet and is more brightly coloured and smaller than the latter.


Presence on the planet: Of the Latin American felids the Kodkod has the most restricted distribution, confined to central and southern Chile from Coquimbo to Chiloé and the Guaitecas islands, and also the Argentinian Patagonian Andean lakes district: Chubut and Santa Cruz. Found in coniferous forest, the Kodkod has also been found in semi-open habitats. F. (O.) g. guigna occupies the southern part of the range of this species.


Habitat: Guignas inhabit the moist temperate forests of the southern Andean and coastal ranges of Chile and Argentina. They occur to the treeline which ranges from 1900 to 2500 meters altitude. Most kokods have been recorded from the temperate moist Araucarian and Valdivian forests. Valdivian forests are characterized by a multi-layered structure with a bamboo understory and an abundance of epiphytes and lianas. Guignas also seem to be tolerant of disturbed habitats, they have been captured in settled and cultivated areas and in secondary forest and shrub. Guignas are most common on Chiloe and Guaitecas islands.


Kodkod Physical appearance: Guignas are small felids measuring 58.5 cm to 68 cm in length, including the tail. They are the smallest cat species in the western hemisphere. They are buff or grey brown in color. Kodkods are marked with round blackish spots on upper and lower parts, with some black streaking on the head and shoulders. The tail is narrowly ringed with black color and the backs of the ears are black with white spots. There is a high incidence of melanism, which seems to increase with latitude. Guignas may be a subspecies of Geoffroy's cat, Oncifelis geoffroyi.


Diet: Little is known about their prey, but guignas are known to eat small mammals and birds. There is at least one report of this species raiding chicken-houses in groups, but this is not verified and is considered unlikely to be common by some experts.


Reproduction & Offspring: Almost nothing is known about the reproduction and growth of kod kods in either the wild or in captivity. A typical litter size is two or three offspring. Reproductive maturity of one female was attained at 24 months of age.


Conservation status: Kodkod are very rare in the wild and currently threatened by extensive habitat destruction. In view of their extremely restricted distribution this must be regarded very seriously. The IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group states that the kodkod has been placed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). This acknowledges that the listed species are faced with extinction unless trade is strictly regulated. The IUCN Red List has the kodkod as Vulnerable.


Life span: 11 years
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As with many of the small wild cat species of the Americas very little is known of the lifestyle of the kodkod. It is believed to be mainly a nocturnal hunter, presumably preying on small rodents, birds and reptiles. The cat is a forest dweller and is able to climb well. As with its lifestyle, little is know of the size of population of the kodkod, but loss of natural habitat due to forestry and logging activities, pose a constant threat.



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