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Pampas Cat - Oncifelis colocolo

By: C.M.Shorter

The Pampas Cat is another of the small Wild Cats that makes its home in the South American countries of Ecuador, Brazil, Chile and Argentina partially sharing Chilean territory with another tiny cat - the elusive and shy Kodkod. As their name implies, they inhabit open grassland but they also take range in humid forests, open woodlands, savannas, mangrove swamp areas as well as dry thorn scrub. Unlike the Jaguar who thrives in the Amazon Rainforest as optimal habitat, the Pampas Cat are absent from the lowland rainforest. Throughout the Andes mountains they are known to range up anywhere from 100 to 5,000 metres where they share territory with the Andean Mountain Cat. To the south they can be found in the semi-arid desert of the Patagonia, further north in southwestern Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia into the Peruvian Andes.
Pampas Cat
Pampas Cat
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Although the Pampas Cat occurs through a wide range of diverse habitats, they have been studied very little in the wild. There are three subspecies with distinct coat patterns and isolated ranges but lineage has not been determined with current studies underway to see if full specie proposals are warranted. This lack of information makes it difficult for conservationists to develop an effective plan to protect them.

The Pampas Cat stature is similar to that of a domestic cat, with soft thick fur in colder mountainous climates thinning as necessary to suit the arid desert environment. Coloring varies ranging from yellowish to shades of grey and browns. Their coat may carry reddish grey spots or, be completely unmarked like that of the Jaguarundi, with dark bands only around the feet and tail. Ears are pointed with silver-white spotting on the back being nature's "False Eyes" for protection from larger predators. Mainly terrestrial, the Pampas Cat will climb trees when being chased. They are primarily nocturnal hunters with large eyes providing excellent night vision. Prey consists of other smaller nocturnal mammals, ground nesting birds such as penguins and their eggs, lizards and large insects and domestic livestock.

International trade in Pampas Cat pelts was suspended in 1987. Throughout South America their status varies widely from endangered in Peru, rare in Paraguay to status unknown in Brazil. Pampas Cats are tolerant of human interference but have lost significant amounts of territory to development of agricultural land with their prey also reduced. Hunting is regulated in Peru, but Brazil and Ecuador offer no legal protection for the Pampas Cat. Actual wild population count is unknown but declining numbers have placed them on CITES Appendix II.

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Scientific Name: Oncifelis colocolo
Common Name(s): Pampas Cat
Range: Ecuador, Brazil to Chile and Argentina
Average Weight: 3 - 7kg (6 -15 lbs)
Length: 30 -35cm (12 - 14")
Diet: Carnivorous. Small nocturnal mammals, ground nesting birds, penguins, penguin eggs, lizards, large insects and domestic livestock.
Gestation Period: 80 - 82 Days
Cub Maturity: 5 - 6 Months
Cubs Per Litter: 1 - 3 Kittens
Lifespan: 10 - 12 years
Predators: Man.
Social Structure:
Territory Size: 30 - 50km (17 - 28 miles)
Conservation Status: Placed on CITES Appendix II. International trade in Pampas Cat pelts suspended in 1987.

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