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Tiger, Ranthambore Tiger Reserve

Marbled Cat

Marbled CatMarbled cats of Asia have been compared to small clouded leopards Neofelis nebulosa, as both bear the distinctive marbling pattern on their coats, with the combination of large, irregular shaped dark blotches, margined with black. Genetic studies of this cats blood serum, shows that it shares an identical karyotype with Lynx, Panthera and Uncia, leaving this cats evolutionary history somewhat of a taxonomic puzzle. Perhaps, this little cat is similar in form to the forest ancestors of the big cats some 10 million years ago (Collier and OBrien, 1985). However, it may have also diminished in size more recently due to competition with other big cats.

Zoological name: Pardofelis marmorata

Presence on the planet: Marbled cats have been found in tropical forests from Nepal through southeast Asia to Borneo and Sumatra, but its presence in parts of the area is known only from single observations. It is thought to spend a lot of its time in trees where it is difficult to see and it may be more widely distributed than is at present known.

P. m. marmorata is the southern subspecies from Malaysia and Borneo.

Physical description: Superficially, the marbled cat looks like a smaller version of the clouded leopard. The ecology of the two species is very similar. Although both are closely related to the large or Panthera cats, the face of the marbled cat is more reminiscent of a small cat than is that of the clouded leopard. The tail of the smaller cat is far more bushy.

One character which the marbled cat shares with the clouded leopard is very long canine teeth. Thick and soft, the fur of the marbled cat is brownish-yellow, covered in large blotches which are paler in their centres and margined with black. There are black spots on the limbs and some black lines on the head and neck. Interrupted bands run from the inner corner of each eye over the head.

Diet: Marbled cats are carnivorous. The diet consists primarily of birds, but also includes squirrels, rats and other small rodents, lizards, insects, and frogs. Marbled cats hunt mostly in trees. In Borneo they may be more terrestrial and forage on the ground.

Reproduction & Offspring: Four kittens were reported to have been born to one captive female (Barnes 1976). Only one was seen by her keepers, so she may have eaten the rest. Most litters seem to be of two kittens, born after gestation periods of 66 to 82 days. In captivity, oestrus is reported to occur in any month. A kittens eyes will be fully opened by about 16 days, and they will be able to walk at 22 days. Less than 100 grams when born, they develop quickly and have a full set of teeth. The coat of the kittens is mottled rather than distinctly patterned.

Conservation status: The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) classifies the marbled cat as intermediate. This is because it is known to be seriously threatened but not by how much due to lack of population estimates. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has listed the marbled cat in Appendix I. This means that all international commerce of the marbled cat is prohibited.

Life span: 12 years

Social System and Communication: Believed to be solitary and nocturnal, with vocalizations that are comparable to the domestic cats.
Amazing marble cats!!

Unusually in the felids, the eye socket is surrounded by a complete bony ring. The pupils are ovoid, typical of the small, Felis cats. The marbled cats skull is broad, and like that of the cheetah, it is shorter and more rounded than in most of the other cats. The anterior upper premolar is absent or vestigial. Slightly larger than a domestic cat, the marbled cat is considered to be the Asian ecological equivalent of the margay.

Quite different in overall appearance from other cats, the marbled cat has been separated into an unique genus by some authors.

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