- Every two weeks, Mongabay brings you a new episode of Candid Animal Cam, our show featuring animals caught on camera traps around the world and hosted by Romi Castagnino, our writer and conservation scientist.
Camera traps bring you closer to the secretive natural world and are an important conservation tool to study wildlife. This week we’re meeting a wild cat that looks like a miniature version of the clouded leopard: the marbled cat.
The marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata) is a small wild cat native from the eastern Himalayas to Southeast Asia, where it inhabits forests in altitudes of up to 3,000 meters. It has a unique coat pattern with markings that resemble the ones of a clouded leopard. Marbled cats are semi-arboreal animals with flexible paws and retractable claws which makes them well suited for climbing. In the wild, they have been observed descending head-first down trees. Much of the behavior of the elusive marbled cat remains poorly studied but it is known that the cat is solitary and nocturnal. Its diet remains mostly unknown but it is thought to prey primarily on birds and arboreal small mammals like tree squirrels, tree shrews, rodents, and small primates.
Marbled cats depend on intact forest habitats so they are sensitive to any human disturbance. They are vulnerable to habitat destruction from logging, agriculture, and human development. According to the IUCN Red List, the global population size of the marbled cat has not been quantified but there are likely around 10,000 mature individuals and the population is declining. The IUCN classifies the species as Near Threatened. Watch the video to learn more about this species!
Special thanks to Matthew Luskin and Jonathan Moore for sharing their camera trap footage taken in Thailand and Borneo, and Alexander Hendry for providing the video clip about marbled cat behavior.
Banner image of a marbled cat by eMammal via Flickr.com (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).
Romi Castagnino is Mongabay’s bilingual writer. Find her on Twitter and Instagram: @romi_castagnino