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The Asian leopard cat is a small wild cat found in Southeast Asia. Many experts consider this cat to be an endangered species, though some disagree because there are more than 50,000 left. However, since this number is declining, the Asian leopard cat, is a protected species in Hong Kong under the Wild Animals Protection Ordinance Cap 170.
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The Asian Leopard Cat: Physical Characteristics
Asian leopard cats are small and on average they are about the size of a full grown domestic cat. However, there are some significant regional differences. The average size of these cats in Indonesia is eighteen inches plus an eight inch tail, but in the Amur region these cats considerably larger with an average length of twenty-four inches plus a sixteen inch tail. The average shoulder height of an adult Asian leopard cat is sixteen inches and on average they weigh ten to fifteen pounds as adults. The fur color of these cats varies by region as well. In the southern populations, their fur tends to be yellow while in the northern populations, their fur tends to be silver-gray in color. Regardless of region, their chests and lower head areas are white. The Asian leopard cat possesses rosetted or spotted black markings.
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The Asian leopard cat has the largest distribution of all cats. They are found throughout forest areas in Taiwan, Indonesia, China, Philippines, Cambodia, Borneo, Laos, Malaysia, Mynamar and Thailand. This wild cat is also sometimes found in India, Korea and Pakistan. The Asian leopard cat's habitat and range varies greatly and includes semi-desert, tropical forest, second-growth woodland, pine forest, scrubland and agricultural regions, especially close to sources of water. These cats can be found in areas that rise up to 3,000 meters.
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Behavior, Diet and Habitat
These wild cats are skillful, expert tree climbers. They can also swim quite well, but rarely do so. The Asian leopard cat is nocturnal and spends the daylight hours in caves, dens, cavities under roots and in hollow trees. This cat is also solitary and only interacts with other Asian leopard cats during mating season. These cats are carnivores, but they will often supplement their diet with aquatic prey, grass, poultry and eggs. These cats feed on a variety of several different types of small prey including, insects, small mammals, birds, amphibians and lizards. Asian leopard cats living in the more northern regions may also prey on hares.
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Reproduction and Development
After sixty to seventy days of gestation, a female Asian leopard cat typically gives birth to two to three kittens. At birth the kittens weigh an average of 75 to 130 grams and their weight will double by their second week of life. By the time the kittens reach five weeks of age, their weight will be four times what it was at birth. They begin to eat solid food at about four weeks old when their permanent canines come in. Asian leopard cats usually stay together after mating and raise their kittens together for seven to ten months. Kittens reach full maturity at eighteen months.
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Asian Leopard Cat: http://www.flickr.com/photos/33590535@N06/3681488696/