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Kodkod - Oncifelis guigna

By: C.M.Shorter

The Kodkod is the smallest of the Wild Cats in the western hemisphere where the Jaguar is the largest. The Kodkod makes its home in the South American countries of Chile and Argentina and limited population is found on Chiloe Island, off the southern coast of Chile. The Kodkod is extremely reclusive and does not adapt well to areas disturbed by humans. Normally they would travel and hunt during the day, but this one instance where they must live in an altered behavioral state becoming nocturnal to avoid human interference. They are very shy and will only make passage across roads in the forest under cover of the shadow of trees.
Picture of a Kodkod
Kodkod - Oncifelis guigna - Picture
This Wild Cat is small weighing only 4 - 6 lbs similar to the size to the Black-Footed Cat and Rusty Spotted Cat. Kodkod's have carved out a special niche taking up residence where there is a scarcity of larger carnivorous predators and in an area where small rodent prey is plentiful. Local myth had persecuted the Kodkod as a vampire for decades as natives would often find 2 small puncture holes on the necks of livestock, similar to bite marks left by a Vampire Bat. Evidently these neck wounds resulted when the domestic prey was too large for the Kodkod to take for a meal. Once the local people realized the Kodkod was not a blood-sucker and acknowledged the Kodkod's value in rodent patrol of their farmlands, the Vampire myths were dispelled and these same native folks became staunch protectors of these little cats.
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Small size has advantage here as the Kodkod has not historically been hunted for its exquisitely marked pelt like the Lynx, Snow Leopard and Jaguar. The Kodkod is caught in traps and used as bait for foxes by local farmers. It is the larger males who frequently take domestic livestock of free-range chickens and geese while females staying closer to home surviving instead on small rodents and insects. Coat color is dark overall with small round dark spotting which often continues onto their feet. Tails are marked with 10-12 dark bands and widen near the tip like the Andean Mountain Cat's.

Quite limited in range geographically and threatened by loss of habitat the Kodkod is offered protection over much of its range. The Kodkod is not being housed in any zoological facilities currently, however there are present attempts being made at captive breeding by private study. Although actual wild population is not known, the Kodkod's numbers continue decreasing resulting in their placement on CITES Appendix II.

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Scientific Name: Oncifelis guigna
Common Name(s): Kodkod
Range: Central and southern Chile, Southwest Argentina
Average Weight: 2 -3 kg (4 -6 lbs)
Length: 57 - 75 cm (22 - 30")
Diet: Carnivorous. Primarily small mice and rodents, insects.
Gestation Period: 72 - 78 Days
Cub Maturity: 6 - 8 Months
Cubs Per Litter: 1 - 3 Kittens
Lifespan: 8 - 12 years.
Predators: Man.
Social Structure: Solitary.
Territory Size: 20 - 85 km (11 - 48 miles)
Conservation Status: Placed on CITES Appendix II

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