Yes, is the short answer and the picture below illustrates this skill nicely. The clouded leopard (2 subspecies) is a big/small cat and one of those that spends a lot of their time in trees which makes them ‘arboreal’. They join that select band of cats: the margay (the best tree-dweller of all the cats) and the marbled cat of Southeast Asia as highly arboreal.
All have adaptations to facilitate tree climbing and moving around in trees:
- Wide forepaws;
- The ability to rotate their hind paws enabling them to descend a tree head-first like a squirrel which also have rotating hind paws;
- Thicker and longer tails to assist in balancing and
- Slender bodies and broad feet.
Their lifestyles are a reflection on how important moving vertically is to all cats including the domestic cat. Vertical movement aids survival.
It is a great shame therefore that their lives are at risk with extensive deforestation in many places where they are present. Deforestation has caused clouded leopard inbreeding due to habitat fragmentation leading to small isolated populations. Inbreeding negates survival as it can cause sterility and compromised immune systems.
RELATED: Clouded Leopard Population
I don’t see a good future for the amazing clouded leopard which was also and still is to a lesser extent persecuted for their beautiful coat. I don’t want to be too pessimistic but I am afraid that humankind’s presence has been enormously damaging to the clouded leopard and the Sunda clouded leopard.
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