Pantanal cat

Pantanal cat
Not evaluated (IUCN 3.1)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Genus: Leopardus
Species: L. braccatus
Binomial name
Leopardus braccatus[1]
Cope, 1889

Leopardus colocolo braccatus
Lynchailurus braccatus

The Pantanal cat (Leopardus braccatus) is a small cat native to tropical South America. It is named after the Pantanal wetlands in central South America, but mainly inhabits grassland, shrubland, savannas and deciduous forests. It has traditionally been treated as a subspecies of the larger colocolo, but was split primarily based on differences in pelage colour/pattern and cranial measurements.[2] This split is not supported by genetic work.[3][4]

It is considered a subspecies of L. colocolo by IUCN assessors.[5] Others regard it as "likely [a] distinct species".[6] The validity of the genetic work has been questioned.[7]


Pantanal cats are small felines, roughly the size of a domestic cat. They have yellowish or brown fur with dark brown spots on the flanks, a whitish throat, two dark lines on each cheek, black stripes on the legs and chest, and black feet and tail-tip. The ears are large and pointed, with dark grey to black fur, and sometimes a pale marking on the posterior surface. There is a single report of a wild melanistic individual from Brazil, although this coat pattern has also been observed in some captive specimens.[7]

Two subspecies can be identified on the basis of their coat pattern. L. b. braccatus is almost entirely rusty-brown with faint spots, continuous bands and a prominent black tip on the tail, and all-black feet. L. b. munoai is paler and more yellowish, has flank spots that are browner and more distinct, feet that are only black on the soles, and discontinuous rings and a narrow black tip on the tail.[2]

The fur is generally longer on Pantanal cats than on other closely related species, although the crest of longer hair running down the back is less distinct. The claws are retractile and sharply curved.[7]

Distribution and habitat

Pantanal cats are found from sea level to 2,000 metres (6,600 ft) in east-central Brazil, Uruguay, and neighbouring regions of central South America (Bolivia, Paraguay and Argentina).[7][8] Within this region, they inhabit a range of habitats from open grassland to dense forest, although they are specifically named for the Pantanal wetlands of Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay.[2][7] It has also been reported from agricultural land, and therefore must have some limited tolerance for human disturbance.[9]

When recognized as a species separate from the colocolo, there are two subspecies of the Pantanal cat:[1]

Behaviour and diet

Pantanal cats are diurnal and solitary, inhabiting home ranges of 3 to 37 square kilometres (1.2 to 14.3 sq mi). They are carnivorous, feeding on small mammals, such as cavies, ground-dwelling birds, small lizards, and snakes. In most respects, they are believed to be similar in behaviour and biology to the colocolo.[7] Hybrids between the Pantanal cat and oncilla are known from Brazil.[3]


  1. 1 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. 537–538. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  2. 1 2 3 Garcia-Perea, R. (1994). The pampas cat group (Genus Lynchailurus Severertzov 1858) (Carnivora: Felidae), A systematic and biogeographic review. American Museum Novitates 3096: 1-35.
  3. 1 2 Johnson, W.E.; et al. (1999). "Disparate phylogeographic patterns of molecular genetic variation in four closely related South American small cat species". Molecular Ecology. 8 (s1): S79–S94. doi:10.1046/j.1365-294X.1999.00796.x.
  4. Macdonald, D. & Loveridge, A., eds. (2010). The Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-923445-5
  5. Lucherini, M.; Eizirik, E.; de Oliveira, T.; Pereira, J.; Williams, R.S.R. (2016). "Leopardus colocolo". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature.
  6. 1 2 3 Sunquist, M. E. & Sunquist, F. C. (2009). Colocolo (Leopardus colocolo). Pp. 146 in: Wilson, D. E., & Mittermeier, R. A. eds. (2009). Handbook of the Mammals of the World. Vol. 1. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. ISBN 978-84-96553-49-1
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Barstow, A.L. & Leslie, D.M. (2012). "Leopardus braccatus (Carnivora: Felidae)". Mammalian Species. 44 (1): 16–25. doi:10.1644/891.1.
  8. Díaz Luque, J. A., Beraud, V., Torres, P. J., Kacoliris, F. P., Daniele, G., Wallace, R. B., and Berkunsky, I. (2012). First record of pantanal cat, Leopardus colocolo braccatus, in Bolivia. Mastozoología neotropical 19(2): 299–301.
  9. Araujo Bagno, M. (2004). "Notes on the natural history and conservation status of pampas cat, Oncifelis colocolo, in the Brazilian Cerrado". Mammalia. 68 (1): 75–79. doi:10.1515/mamm.2004.011.
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