Pampas Cat

Pampas Cat

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The Colocolo is a small spotted and striped cat native to the west Andean slope in central and northern Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

. Until recently it included the more widespread Pampas Cat
Pampas Cat
The Colocolo is a small spotted and striped cat native to the west Andean slope in central and northern Chile. Until recently it included the more widespread Pampas Cat and Pantanal Cat , and some maintain these as subspecies of the Colocolo...

 (L. pajeros) and Pantanal Cat
Pantanal Cat
The Pantanal Cat is a small feline of far south-eastern and central Brazil, Paraguay, northern Argentina and Uruguay. It is named after the Pantanal wetlands in central South America, but mainly occurs in grassland, shrubland, savannas and deciduous forests...

 (L. braccatus), and some maintain these as subspecies
Subspecies
Subspecies in biological classification, is either a taxonomic rank subordinate to species, ora taxonomic unit in that rank . A subspecies cannot be recognized in isolation: a species will either be recognized as having no subspecies at all or two or more, never just one...

 of the Colocolo. Confusingly, when these are treated as subspecies
Subspecies
Subspecies in biological classification, is either a taxonomic rank subordinate to species, ora taxonomic unit in that rank . A subspecies cannot be recognized in isolation: a species will either be recognized as having no subspecies at all or two or more, never just one...

 of the Colocolo, the "combined" species is sometimes referred to as the Pampas Cat.

Genus


Like most other small cats, the Colocolo was formerly included in the genus Felis
Felis
Felis is a genus of cats in the family Felidae, including the familiar domestic cat and its closest wild relatives. The wild species are distributed widely across Europe, southern and central Asia, and Africa; the domestic cat has been introduced worldwide.Members of the genus Felis are all small...

, but together with the Geoffroy's Cat
Geoffroy's Cat
Geoffroy's Cat is a wild cat in the southern and central regions of South America. It is about the size of a domestic cat. While the species is relatively common in many areas, it is considered to be "Near Threatened" by IUCN because of concern over land-use changes in the regions where it lives...

 and Kodkod
Kodkod
The Kodkod , also called Guiña, is the smallest cat in the Americas and also has the smallest distribution, being found primarily in central and southern Chile and marginally in adjoining areas of Argentina...

 some have placed it in Oncifelis
Oncifelis
Oncifelis was a genus that consisted of three small feline species native to South America. These species have now been moved into the genus Leopardus.Members of the Oncifelis were the Colocolo, Geoffroy's Cat and the Kodkod....


instead. Today all major authorities place it in Leopardus
Leopardus
Leopardus is a genus consisting of small spotted cats mostly native to Middle and South America. Very few range into the southern United States. The genus is considered the oldest branch of the part of the cat family to cross into the Americas, followed by the genera Lynx and Puma...

.

Species and subspecies


As traditionally defined, the Colocolo occurs in the widest range of habitats of any small South American felid
Felidae
Felidae is the biological family of the cats; a member of this family is called a felid. Felids are the strictest carnivores of the thirteen terrestrial families in the order Carnivora, although the three families of marine mammals comprising the superfamily pinnipedia are as carnivorous as the...

. This, combined with distinct differences in pelage colour/pattern and cranial
Cranial
Cranial may refer to:* an adjective related to the cranium* Anatomical terms of location* Cranial cavity* Cranial Osteopathy...

 measurements, was the basis for splitting
Lumpers and splitters
Lumping and splitting refers to a well-known problem in any discipline which has to place individual examples into rigorously defined categories. The lumper/splitter problem occurs when there is the need to create classifications and assign examples to them, for example schools of literature,...

 the Pantanal Cat
Pantanal Cat
The Pantanal Cat is a small feline of far south-eastern and central Brazil, Paraguay, northern Argentina and Uruguay. It is named after the Pantanal wetlands in central South America, but mainly occurs in grassland, shrubland, savannas and deciduous forests...

 and Pampas Cat
Pampas Cat
The Colocolo is a small spotted and striped cat native to the west Andean slope in central and northern Chile. Until recently it included the more widespread Pampas Cat and Pantanal Cat , and some maintain these as subspecies of the Colocolo...

 from the Colocolo. Based on genetic divergence
Genetic divergence
Genetic divergence is the process in which two or more populations of an ancestral species accumulate independent genetic changes through time, often after the populations have become reproductively isolated for some period of time...

, it has been estimated that the splits within the Colocolo group occurred approximately 1.7 million years ago. This divergence was lower than that found within the Geoffroy's Cat
Geoffroy's Cat
Geoffroy's Cat is a wild cat in the southern and central regions of South America. It is about the size of a domestic cat. While the species is relatively common in many areas, it is considered to be "Near Threatened" by IUCN because of concern over land-use changes in the regions where it lives...

 (approximately 2 mya) or Oncilla (approximately 3.7 mya; this very high divergence –far higher than other species in the genus– has resulted in some suggesting more than one species is involved in the Oncilla). Furthermore, the distribution pattern within the Colocolo group based on genetics did not completely match that based on pelage colour/pattern and cranial measurements, and supported some of the traditional subspecific
Subspecies
Subspecies in biological classification, is either a taxonomic rank subordinate to species, ora taxonomic unit in that rank . A subspecies cannot be recognized in isolation: a species will either be recognized as having no subspecies at all or two or more, never just one...

 division rather than species division. While the population in northern Chile has been placed in the Colocolo based on cranial measurements, genetics associate it with Pampas Cats from Bolivia, and while the population in western Argentina has been placed in the Pampas Cat based on pelage colour/pattern and cranial measurements, genetics associate it with the Colocolo. More recent genetic analysis also supports maintaining the Pantanal and Pampas Cats as subspecies of the Colocolo.

When the Pantanal and Pampas Cats are treated as a separate species, the Colocolo has two subspecies: L. c. colocolo and L. c. wolffsohni.

Description and habitat


The Colocolo is a small, but heavy-set cat, only 56 to 67 cm (22 to 26.4 ) in body length, with a short 29 to 32 cm (11.4 to 12.6 in) tail, and weighing around 3 kilograms (6.6 lb) on average. There are two subspecies, which differ in their pelage colour and pattern:
  • L. c. colocolo (nominate): Reddish or dark grey with rusty
    Rust (color)
    Rust is a red-brown-orange color resembling iron oxide. It is a commonly used color in stage lighting, and appears roughly the same color as photographic safelights when used over a standard tungsten light source. The color is number 777 in the swatch book....

    -cinnamon stripes on the flanks and two stripes on each cheek, a cinnamon upperside of the ears with black edges and tips, 4-5 reddish rings on the tail (outer two are darker), dark brown stripes on the legs, black chest spots, and whitish underparts with rusty-ochraceous stripes. It is found in central Chile in subtropical, xerophytic forests at altitudes of up to 1800 metres (5,905.5 ft).
  • L. c. wolffsohni: Similar to nominate, but the flanks have large, reddish brown rosette-shaped spots with darker borders, the upperside of the ears are black with a greyish base and a small grey spot, there are usually 8 rings on the tail (of the same colour as the flank spots), and the stripes on the legs and spots/stripes on the underparts are very dark brown (almost black). It is found in northern Chile in spiny shrubland
    Shrubland
    Shrubland, scrubland, scrub or brush is a plant community characterized by vegetation dominated by shrubs, often also including grasses, herbs, and geophytes. Shrubland may either occur naturally or be the result of human activity...

    s and páramo
    Páramo
    The term páramo can refer to a variety of ecosystems. Some ecologists describe the páramo broadly as “all high, tropical, montane vegetation above the continuous timberline”. A more narrow term classifies the páramo according to its regional placement - specifically located in “the northern Andes...

    . Of two specimen
    Specimen
    A specimen is a portion/quantity of material for use in testing, examination, or study.BiologyA laboratory specimen is an individual animal, part of an animal, a plant, part of a plant, or a microorganism, used as a representative to study the properties of the whole population of that species or...

    s, one was taken at an altitude between 2000 and 4000 m (6,561.7 and 13,123.4 ft), and the other at 4100 metres (13,451.4 ft).


Externally, the Colocolo differs from the Pantanal Cat
Pantanal Cat
The Pantanal Cat is a small feline of far south-eastern and central Brazil, Paraguay, northern Argentina and Uruguay. It is named after the Pantanal wetlands in central South America, but mainly occurs in grassland, shrubland, savannas and deciduous forests...

 in its larger size, and pelage colour and pattern. Some Pampas Cat
Pampas Cat
The Colocolo is a small spotted and striped cat native to the west Andean slope in central and northern Chile. Until recently it included the more widespread Pampas Cat and Pantanal Cat , and some maintain these as subspecies of the Colocolo...

s are as large as the Colocolo, and some subspecies of the Pampas Cats have the same pelage colour and pattern as Colocolos of the subspecies wolffsohni.

Behavior


Little is known about the Colocolo's hunting and breeding habits; however, it is believed to prey mainly on small mammals and birds. Guinea pig
Guinea pig
The guinea pig , also called the cavy, is a species of rodent belonging to the family Caviidae and the genus Cavia. Despite their common name, these animals are not in the pig family, nor are they from Guinea...

s are thought to form a large part of the diet, along with viscacha
Viscacha
Viscachas or vizcachas are rodents of two genera in the family Chinchillidae. They are closely related to chinchillas, and look similar to rabbits...

s and other rodent
Rodent
Rodentia is an order of mammals also known as rodents, characterised by two continuously growing incisors in the upper and lower jaws which must be kept short by gnawing....

s, and tinamou
Tinamou
The tinamous are a family comprising 47 species of birds found in Central and South America. One of the most ancient living groups of bird, they are related to the ratites. Generally ground dwelling, they are found in a range of habitats....

s. Though some have suggested it is chiefly nocturnal, others suggest it is mainly diurnal.

Litters are relatively small, usually consisting of only one or two kittens, and occasionally three. The kittens weigh around 130 grams (4.6 oz) at birth. The Colocolo's life span is between 9 and 16 years.

Status


The IUCN have only rated the "combined" species (including Pantanal and Pampas Cats), in which case the Colocolo is considered Near Threatened
Near Threatened
Near Threatened is a conservation status assigned to species or lower taxa that may be considered threatened with extinction in the near future, although it does not currently qualify for the threatened status...

. Whether the Colocolo will receive a higher rating if the Pantanal and Pampas Cats are treated as separate species is unclear, but it may be Endangered
Endangered species
An endangered species is a population of organisms which is at risk of becoming extinct because it is either few in numbers, or threatened by changing environmental or predation parameters...

, and its range is smaller than that of the Kodkod
Kodkod
The Kodkod , also called Guiña, is the smallest cat in the Americas and also has the smallest distribution, being found primarily in central and southern Chile and marginally in adjoining areas of Argentina...

, rated as Vulnerable
Vulnerable species
On 30 January 2010, the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species identified 9694 Vulnerable species, subspecies and varieties, stocks and sub-populations.-References:...

 by the IUCN. However, unlike the Kodkod, the Colocolo is not associated with the highly threatened temperate rainforests found in the region.