Leopardus guttulus

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Southern tiger cat
Leopardus guttulus.jpg
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Felidae
Genus: Leopardus
Species: L. guttulus
Binomial name
Leopardus guttulus
(Hensel, 1872)

Leopardus guttulus, the southern tiger cat or southern tigrina, is a wild cat species native to Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.[1]


The southern tigrina belongs to the genus Leopardus, which is a member of the Felidae.[2]

It was long considered to be a subspecies of the oncilla, but was recognized as a distinct species in 2013.[3] It is closely related to Geoffroy's cat, with which it reportedly interbreeds in southern Brazil.[4][5]


The small neotropical cat has a yellowish-ocre coat patterned with open black rosettes. Physically, the southern tigrina can be distinguished from the oncilla by its slightly darker background coloring, larger rosette pattern, and slightly shorter tail. However, it is extremely difficult to distinguish between the two species by appearance alone, since more genetic variation tends to occur within each species than between the two species.[3] An adult southern tigrina weighs anywhere between 1.9 and 2.4 kg (4.2 and 5.3 lb).[6]

Distribution and habitat

The southern tigrina occurs from central to southern Brazil in Minas Gerais and Goiás states, in the Atlantic forest, eastern Paraguay and northeastern Argentina below elevations of 2,000 m (6,600 ft). The population is roughly estimated to comprise around 6,000 mature individuals.[1] It inhabits dense tropical and subtropical rainforests, deciduous and mixed pine forests, open savannahs, and beach vegetation.[7]

At the margins of its range, the southern tigrina interbreeds with Geoffroy’s cats, L. geoffroyi, but it does not appear to interbreed with the oncilla population in northeastern Brazil, which in contrast has a history of interbreeding with L. colocolo. Because of habitat differentiation, interbreeding does not occur between oncilla and southern tigrina. In contrast, hybridization and introgression occurs between southern tigrina and Geoffroy’s cat at their contact zone in southern Brazil. Many southern tigrinas and Geoffrey’s cats are thought to be partial hybrids, because of the high level of interbreeding that is occurring.[3]

Behaviour and ecology

The southern tigrina preys mostly on small mammals, birds and lizards. Average prey weighs less than 100 g (0.22 lb), but also includes larger sized prey up to 1 kg (2.2 lb).[8][3]

The southern tigrina often inhabits the same habitat as the ocelot. In areas with a high ocelot concentration, the southern tigrina populations are smaller, due to competition. When ocelots are scarce, it allows for smaller cat species, such as the southern tigrina, to have better opportunities for shelters, food, and territory, which therefore allows for a larger population size and density of southern tigrina. This phenomenon is called the ocelot effect.[9]

In 2015, two juvenile southern tigrinas were recorded for the first time in the Atlantic forest while learning hunting skills and capturing a cavy. The mother plays an important role in teaching her cubs how to hunt and survive in the wild.[10]


During the fur trade, the southern tigrina was heavily exploited. Today, the biggest threats of the southern tigrina include habitat loss and deforestation, hunting from local people, road kills, diseases spread from domestic dogs, and the use of rodent poisoning.[1]


The southern tigrina occurs in protected areas, but probably at low densities. Currently, a push is on to better understand the biodiversity, ecology, evolution, and genetics of the southern tigrina to orchestrate a more effective conservation strategy for the species. In addition, further research is being conducted to better understand the special differences between oncilla and southern tigrina. Hunting is banned in Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay.[1]


A demographic expansion following the last glacial maximum (20,000 years ago) is thought to have led to the allopatric speciation of the southern tigrina.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e de Oliveira, T., Trigo, T., Tortato, M., Paviolo, A., Bianchi, R. & Leite-Pitman, M.R.P. (2016). "Leopardus guttulus". The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2016: e.T54010476A54010576. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-2.RLTS.T54010476A54010576.en. Retrieved 14 January 2018. 
  2. ^ Wozencraft, W.C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 537–540. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Trigo, T. C.; Schneider, A.; de Oliveira, T. G.; Lehugeur, L. M.; Silveira, L.; Freitas, T. R.O.; Eizirik, E. (2013). "Molecular Data Reveal Complex Hybridization and a Cryptic Species of Neotropical Wild Cat". Current Biology. 23: 2528–2533. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2013.10.046. PMID 24291091. 
  4. ^ Trigo, T.C.; Tirelli, F.P.; de Freitas, T.R.O.; Eizirik, E. (2014). "Comparative Assessment of Genetic and Morphological Variation at an Extensive Hybrid Zone between Two Wild Cats in Southern Brazil". PLoS ONE 9 (9): e108469. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0108469. 
  5. ^ Kasper, C.B., Peters, F.B., Christoff, A.U. and de Freitas, T.R.O. (2016). "Trophic relationships of sympatric small carnivores in fragmented landscapes of southern Brazil: niche overlap and potential for competition". Mammalia 80 (2): 143−152. 
  6. ^ Rinaldi, A.R.; Rodriguez, F.H.; de Carvalho, A.L.; de Camargo Passos, F. (2015). "Feeding of small Neotropical felids (Felidae: Carnivora) and trophic niche overlap in anthropized mosaic landscape of South Brazil". Biotemas 28 (4): 155−168.
  7. ^ Oliveira, T.G. de, Kasper, C.B., Tortato, M.A., Marques, R.V., Mazim, F.D. and Soares, J.B.G. (2008). "Aspectos ecológicos de Leopardus tigrinus e outros felinos de pequeno-médio porte no Brasil". In T.G. de Oliveira. Plano de ação para conservação de Leopardus tigrinus no Brasil. Atibaia, SP, Brazil: Instituto Pró-Carnívoros, Fundo Nacional do Meio Ambiente. pp. 37−105. 
  8. ^ Facure-Giaretta, K.G. (2002). Ecologia alimentar de duas espécies de felinos do gênero Leopardus em uma floresta secundária no sudeste do Brasil. PhD thesis. Universidade Estadual de Campinas. 
  9. ^ de Oliveira, T.G., Tortato, M.A., Silveira, L., Kasper, C.B., Mazim, F.D., Lucherini, M., Jácomo, A.T., Soares, J.B.G., Marques, R.V. and Sunquist, M. (2010). "Ocelot ecology and its effect on the small-felid guild in the lowland neotropics". Biology and conservation of wild felids: 559−580. 
  10. ^ Bogoni, J. A.; Graipel, M. E.; de Castilho, P. V.; Peroni, N. (2017). "Development of predatory behaviours in young southern tigrinas (Leopardus guttulus)" (PDF). Mammalia 81 (4): 421−424. 

External links

  • IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group: Leopardus guttulus

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