Prionailurus javanensis

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Prionailurus javanensis
Blacan Indonesia.jpg
Javan leopard cat
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Felidae
Genus: Prionailurus
Species: P. javanensis
Binomial name
Prionailurus javanensis
(Desmarest, 1816)

Prionailurus javanensis is a small wild cat native to the Sundaland islands of Java, Bali, Borneo, Sumatra and the Philippines that is considered a species distinct from the leopard cat occurring in mainland South and Southeast Asia.[1][2]


Desmarest described the Javan leopard cat as a little smaller than the domestic cat with brown round spots on grey-brown coloured fur above and whitish underneath, a line from above each eye towards the back and longish spots on the back. He noted the similarity to the leopard cat from India.[3] Like all Prionailurus species it has rounded ears.[4] Like its mainland relative, the Sunda leopard cat is slender, with long legs and well-defined webs between its toes. Its small head is marked with two prominent dark stripes and a short and narrow white muzzle. There are two dark stripes running from the eyes to the ears, and smaller white streaks running from the eyes to the nose. The backs of its moderately long and rounded ears are black with central white spots. Body and limbs are marked with black spots of varying size and color, and along its back are three rows of elongated spots that join into complete stripes in some subspecies. The tail is about half the size of its head-body length and is spotted with a few indistinct rings near the black tip. The background color of the spotted fur varies from light grey to ochre tawny, with a white chest and belly. There are two main variants in the coloration.[2] The cats from Java, Bali and Palawan are a light grey, sometimes yellow-grey, with very small spots that may not be clearly defined. The three spotted lines along the back do not from complete stripes and are close together. Those from Sumatra, Borneo and Negros have a warm ochre toned background color and larger well-distinguished spots. The three longitudinal spot-lines are usually fused into stripes. Sunda leopard cats weigh 0.55 to 3.8 kg (1.2 to 8.4 lb), have head-body lengths of 38.8 to 66 cm (15.3 to 26.0 in) and tails about 40-50% of that length.[2][5]

Distribution and habitat

In the Sundaland islands, the leopard cat is distributed on Borneo, Java, Bali, Sumatra and Tebingtinggi, Palawan, Negros, Cebu and Panay.[2] Its natural habitat is lowland tropical evergreen forest, but it has also adapted to human-modified landscapes with suitable vegetation cover, and inhabits agricultural areas such as rubber, oil palm, and sugarcane plantations.[5][6]

In Sabah's Tabin Wildlife Reserve leopard cats had average home ranges of 3.5 km2 (1.4 sq mi).[7]

Distribution of subspecies

Results of a morphological analysis of 147 skins and 100 skulls of leopard cats from insular and peninsular Southeast Asia indicates that there are six subspecies in the region, one on the mainland and five with distinct island distributions.[2] The five island subspecies are now recognised as subspecies of the Sunda leopard cat P. javanensis:[1]

  • Javan leopard cat P. j. javanensis (Desmarest, 1816) — inhabits Java and Bali;
  • Sumatran leopard cat P. j. sumatranus (Horsfield 1821) — inhabits Sumatra and Tebingtinggi;
  • Bornean leopard cat P. j. borneoensis (Brongersma 1936) — inhabits Borneo;
  • Palawan leopard cat P. j. heaneyi (Groves 1997) — inhabits the Philippine island of Palawan;
  • Visayan leopard cat P. j. rabori (Groves 1997) — inhabits the Philippine islands of Negros, Cebu and Panay.

Ecology and behaviour

Leopard cats photographed by camera-traps in an oil palm plantation in central Kalimantan were active from late afternoon to early morning and preyed foremost on ricefield rats and other rodents.[8] Nine radio-collared leopard cats in Sabah used predominantly oil palm plantations and also logged dipterocarp forest adjacent to the Tabin Wildlife Reserve. They preyed foremost on Whitehead's spiny rat, dark-tailed tree rat, long-tailed giant rat, lizards, snakes and frogs.[9]

Scats collected of leopard cats in sugarcane fields in Negros island indicate that they feed foremost on rodents such as house mouse, Polynesian rat, ricefield rat and Tanezumi rat.[10] To a lesser extent, they also prey on amphibians, geckos, lizards and passerine birds occurring in these sugarcane fields.[6]

In western Java, leopard cats were encountered close to human settlements and resting on the ground.[11]


  1. ^ a b Kitchener, A. C., Breitenmoser-Würsten, C., Eizirik, E., Gentry, A., Werdelin, L., Wilting A., Yamaguchi, N., Abramov, A. V., Christiansen, P., Driscoll, C., Duckworth, J. W., Johnson, W., Luo, S.-J., Meijaard, E., O’Donoghue, P., Sanderson, J., Seymour, K., Bruford, M., Groves, C., Hoffmann, M., Nowell, K., Timmons, Z. & Tobe, S. (2017). "A revised taxonomy of the Felidae: The final report of the Cat Classification Task Force of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group" (PDF). Cat News. Special Issue 11. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Groves, C. P. (1997). "Leopard-cats, Prionailurus bengalensis (Carnivora: Felidae) from Indonesia and the Philippines, with the description of two new subspecies". Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde. 62: 330–338. 
  3. ^ Desmarest, A. G. (1816). "Le Chat de Java, Felis javanensis Nob.". In Société de naturalistes et d'agriculteurs. Nouveau dictionnaire d'histoire naturelle, appliquée aux arts, à l'agriculture, à l'économie rurale et domestique, à la médecine. Tome 6. Paris: Chez Deterville. 
  4. ^ Pocock, R. I. (1939). "Genus Prionailurus Severtzow". The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Mammalia. – Volume 1. London: Taylor and Francis. pp. 265–284. 
  5. ^ a b Sunquist, M.; Sunquist, F. (2002). "Leopard cat Prionailurus bengalensis (Kerr, 1792)". Wild cats of the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 225–232. ISBN 0-226-77999-8. 
  6. ^ a b Lorica, M. R. P.; Heaney, L. R. (2013). "Survival of a native mammalian carnivore, the leopard cat Prionailurus bengalensis Kerr, 1792 (Carnivora: Felidae), in an agricultural landscape on an oceanic Philippine island". Journal of Threatened Taxa. 5 (10): 4451–4460. doi:10.11609/JoTT.o3352.4451-60. ISSN 0974-7907. 
  7. ^ Rajaratnam, R. (2000). Ecology of the leopard cat Prionailurus bengalensis in Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Sabah, Malaysia. Bangi: PhD Thesis, Universiti Kabangsaan Malaysia. 
  8. ^ Silmi, M.; Anggara, S. & Dahlen, B. (2013). "Using leopard cats (Prionailurus bengalensis) as biological pest control of rats in a palm oil plantation". Journal of Indonesia Natural History 1 (1): 31–36. 
  9. ^ Rajaratnam, R.; Sunquist, M.; Rajaratnam, L.; Ambu, L. (2007). "Diet and habitat selection of the leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis borneoensis) in an agricultural landscape in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo". Journal of Tropical Ecology (23): 209–217. 
  10. ^ Fernandez, D.A.P. & de Guia, A.P.O. (2011). "Feeding habits of Visayan leopard cats (Prionailurus bengalensis rabori) in sugarcane fields of Negros Occidental, Philippines". Asian International Journal of Life Sciences 20 (1): 141–152. 
  11. ^ Rode-Margono, E. J.; Voskamp, A.; Spaan, D.; Lehtinen, J. K.; Roberts, P. D.; Nijman, V. & Nekaris, K. A. I. (2014). "Records of small carnivores and of medium-sized nocturnal mammals on Java, Indonesia". Small Carnivore Conservation 50: 1–11. 

External links

  • Leopard cat photographed in Borneo
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