Sunday Mammalfest

One of the world’s most interesting topics is which mammals are best at climbing trees.

Clouded leopards are intermediate in size between small cats (like domestic cats) and big cats (like leopards). These ones, however, are babies.

Clouded leopards are intermediate in size between 'small cats' (like domestic cats) and 'big cats' (like leopards). These ones, however, are babies.

One factor involved is the ability to move headfirst downwards in ways other than falling. Most mammals don’t have the right sorts of legs to hold on while doing this, so to descend they have to either jump or come down tail-first, which is slow.

Most arboreal squirrels, however, can climb downwards headfirst, as, as I’ve posted about before, so can one genus of mongoose, the slender mongoose.

I’ve recently learned that this trait is also shared with a small number of cats, three in particular. The clouded leopard and Bornean clouded leopard (recently divorced) use this ability in hunting monkeys and gibbons in South-East Asia. Their local names often translate as “Tree Branch Tiger”, which sounds cool.

The other comes from central and south America and is much smaller, the margay. Now there is a problem with posting photos of margays, which is that the internet cannot distinguish margays from ocelots. It also has trouble distinguishing margays from oncillas. So I make no promises: all I can guarantee is that the picture below shows some kind of small spotty American felid:

The elusive and beautiful something

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: