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Leopardus tigrinus

Resembling the ocelot and the margay, the oncilla is one of the smallest South American cats. An adult weighs only 1.5-3 kg.

The background color of the oncilla’s thick, soft fur varies from light to dark ochre with black or dark brown spots and open rosettes. The paler belly fur is covered with dark spots, and large, black spots form seven to thirteen irregular rings on the tail. The oncilla is often confused with the margay. However, the oncilla is smaller and more gracefully built and has relatively large ears and a narrower muzzle. The oncilla’s eyes are a light honey brown and smaller than the margay’s.

The oncilla has a broad geographic distribution in Central and South America. Within this broad range, oncillas are reported to occur in forests, subtropical forests, savannas (Cerrado), wet savannas, and semiarid thorny scrub. Almost nothing is known of the oncilla’s feeding habits in the wild, but it is known that the prey it takes is usually small (less than 100 grams) and terrestrial. Examples of the oncilla’s prey include rodents, birds, and reptiles.

In the wild, the oncilla appears to be rare, but there is little information on its status and abundance. Threats to the oncilla include habitat loss and hunting (for fur). It is classified as Near Threatened (NT) by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and is listed in appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).


Vital Stats:
• Lifespan- Average: 11 years, but up to over 17 years (in CAPTIVITY); 10-14 years (WILD)

• Weight- 1.5-3.0 kg

• Body Measurements- Head-Body Length: 40-55 cm; Tail Lengths: 25-42 cm; Height: Approximately 25 cm

• Status (IUCN)- Near Threatened (NT)