Clouded Leopard


Clouded leopard is a member of the felidae that lives in a wide area of Asia, and is about the size of a medium-sized dog.
It does not live in Japan and is only bred in some zoos, so few people have actually seen it.
Clouded leopard, which is characterized by its very long fangs, may possibly be a survivor of the saber tiger? This is an animal that is rumored to be.
Let’s take a peek together in this article to see what characteristics and secrets clouded leopard has!



~ Basic information. ~

Mammalia-Carnivora-Felidae-Clouded leopard genus.


Clouded leopard is a medium-sized cat that lives in forests from lowlands such as India, China, Nepal, Indochina, Sumatra, and Borneo up to 2500 meters above sea level.

Since clouded leopard in the wild is very precious and rarely seen, the detailed ecology in the wild is not known.


Clouded leopard basically lives alone.

The breeding season of clouded leopard in captivity is from March to August, and the gestation period is 86-93 days, with one to five babies per birth.

Wild clouded leopard give birth in tree caves, but little other information about pregnancy and reproduction is known.

In the wild, clouded leopard catches and eats a variety of animals, including wild boars, deer, buffalo children, monkeys, porcupines, and birds. The hunt for unpio is an ambush type, but the way it is done is a little different.

The clouded leopard lurks on the tree, waits for the prey animals to arrive, and jumps from the top of the tree at once toward the prey that has passed under the tree. He then uses his long fangs to poke through the vital points and kill them with a single blow.



Clouded leopard’s Q&A.

What is the origin of the name clouded leopard?

The animal named clouded leopard in English is actually called “unpyo” in Japanese.

In this article, we will discuss why clouded leopard came to be called “unpyo” in Japan. Let’s take a look at the origin of this.

The name “unpyo” comes from the cloud-like pattern on its body and its resemblance to a leopard.

The kanji for “cloud” is actually read as “un” in Japanese, and the kanji for “leopard” is read as “hyou” in Japanese.

This is how it was conveyed to me because I was a Japanese who used kanji as a language in my daily life.

However, although clouded leopard is named leopard, it is not actually a member of the leopard fellow.

Because of its many unique features such as large fangs and a body dedicated to climbing trees, it is classified as a member of the clouded leopard genus, which consists only of clouded leopard.


Is it true that clouded leopard might be a survivor of the saber tiger?

Clouded leopard is known to have very long fangs for its size.
For this reason, there is a theory that clouded leopard may be a survivor of the saber tiger.

According to this theory, the saber tiger and the clouded leopard are animals that diverged from the same ancestor, and the clouded leopard may have survived by evolving differently from the saber tiger, which evolved too much and became extinct. It seems to be thought of as.

However, there is a theory that the long tusks of the clouded leopardare simply an evolution to make it easier to catch birds.

Unfortunately, we have not found any evidence that clouded leopard is a survivor of the saber tiger, so we do not really know which theory is correct at the moment, or if there is another reason.


Is it true that clouded leopard is good at climbing trees?

It’s true.
Many animals in the felidae are good at climbing trees, but clouded leopard is said to be one of the best at climbing trees.

Clouded leopard are nocturnal, so they rest in the trees during the day to avoid the heat, but at night they hunt in the trees.

In addition, clouded leopard has short and thick limbs for her size, and she also has a long tail that helps her balance. This makes it possible to climb and descend trees in a stable manner.

They can also use their large paws and sharp claws to hang upside down from a tree branch, run down from the top of a tree with their heads down, and jump from tree branch to branch, movements not seen in other felines.

Is clouded leopard good at swimming?

The clouded leopard is a member of the felidae but it is actually as good a swimmer as it is a tree climber.
In fact, in their habitat, clouded leopard have been seen swimming across the river in pursuit of their prey, or entering the river to catch fish.

Is it true that clouded leopard has a cute sound?

It’s true.
Clouded leopard cannot move the bone called the hyoid bone that moves the tongue freely, so he cannot bark “roar” like a lion.The sound of an unpio is just like that of a pet cat, with a cute “meow” or “mew” sound.


How long will clouded leopard live?

It is said that the lifespan of an clouded leopard is 11 years in the wild and 13 to 15 years in captivity.

However, in fact, it is said that there are more than 10 clouded leopard in the world who are over 20 years old.

Incidentally, the longest-lived clouded leopard in Japan was an individual named “Aiko” who was born in Japan and lived to be 19 years old and 6 months old.


Can clouded leopard attack people?

It is said that clouded leopard is basically a cautious person and will not attack people.In particular, the clouded leopard, which inhabits Borneo, often spends its time leisurely, not worrying about seeing people and not running away or attacking them.

However, considering that clouded leopard has the power to defeat deer and wild boar, and that it can attack livestock, it is thought that if a human is attacked by clouded leopard, he or she will be seriously injured.


Is it true that clouded leopard has been seen in Japan?

There is a legend that there is a large cat called “yamapikariya” on Iriomote Island, a remote island in Okinawa Prefecture.

Since Iriomote Island is home to the “iriomote cat” which is endemic to Japan, it was previously thought that the true identity of the yamapikariya was the iriomote cat.

However, according to people who have actually witnessed yamapikariya, yamapikariya was larger than iriomote yamaneko.

And considering its size and characteristics, there is a rumor going around that yamapikariya might actually be clouded leopard, which swam from Taiwan to Iriomote Island.

Taiwan used to be one of the habitats of clouded leopard, so considering these factors, we cannot deny the possibility that clouded leopard swam to the nearby Iriomote Island.

However, in reality, it is difficult to secure enough prey for clouded leopard to live on Iriomote Island, so the theory that yamapikariya was actually clouded leopard is still only a rumor today.

Can I keep clouded leopard as a pet?

Clouded leopard is a very beautiful and sometimes cute and charming animal, but can it be kept as a pet?

The number of clouded leopard has been decreasing rapidly due to the development of forests, their habitat, which has deprived them of a place to live and food.

In addition, there are many cases where a lot of clouded leopard has been caught in order to remove the beautiful fur and bones that are used to make Chinese medicine.

Because of the fear that it will become extinct at this rate, clouded leopard is classified as an “Annex I” to the Washington Convention.

In addition, in recent years, the spirit of animal protection has been growing worldwide, as it is better for animals to live happily in an environment with less stress.

As a result, there are more and more cases where the animals you want are not available, even at zoos.Considering these factors, it is almost impossible for individuals to obtain clouded leopard for the purpose of keeping it as a pet.

Incidentally, in the case of Japan, there is another rule that is unique to Japan clouded leopard is designated as a “specified animal” by Japanese law.

This specific animal may be a danger to human life and property, which means that it is prohibited to keep clouded leopard in Japan for petting purposes.

The rules in this area vary depending on the laws of each country, but in any case, it is quite difficult to keep an internationally endangered species as a pet.


※What is the Washington Convention?
The official name is”Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora”.

It refers to the agreement between countries when exporting or importing products made from animals themselves or parts or all of their bodies that are feared to be extinct.

Basically, the animals listed in “Appendix I” must not be imported or exported for commercial purposes, either as animals or as body parts.

What can we do to protect clouded leopard?

Wild clouded leopard have been caught for their fur and bones, and have already become extinct in some areas, including Taiwan. So what can we do to protect them from extinction?

First of all, when you travel abroad, never buy a product made from clouded leopard fur or bones. In fact, there are many cases overseas where products made from animals are sold as souvenirs, and people buy them without knowing that they are real fur or bones.

It is also important to protect the rainforest, where the clouded leopard live. However, there is little that we, living in Japan, can do directly to protect the rainforest.

However, it is possible to indirectly help solve the problem. This is what it means to be conscious of reducing, reusing, and recycling and to take good care of resources.

Why don’t we start together with what each of us can do, thinking that small accumulations will one day lead to great results?





今泉 忠明(2004年)『野生ネコの百科』データハウス

東京ズーネット「どうぶつ図鑑 ウンピョウ」

ナショナル ジオグラフィック「動物大図鑑 ウンピョウ」




公益財団法人国際緑化推進センター「東南アジア熱帯林の哺乳類 (5)」



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