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Facts of Top 10 Wild Big Cats

Updated on August 23, 2017

10. Caracal

The name Caracal is derived from a Turkish word “karakulak” meaning “black ear.” The Caracal was once trained for bird hunting in Iran and India. They were put into arenas containing a flock of pigeons, and wagers were made as to how many the cat would take down.This is the origination of the expression “to put a cat amongst the pigeons.” The Caracal is capable of leaping into the air and knocking down 10-12 birds at one time! Caracals prey on a variety of mammals, with the most common being rodents, hares, hyraxes, and small antelope.

Unlike the other small African cats, Caracals will not hesitate to kill prey larger then themselves, such as adult springbok or young Kudu. Caracals have also been reported on occasion (although this is an exception rather than a rule) to store their kills in trees, as do the leopards. These cats are mostly nocturnal, but have been spotted in daylight in protected areas. The backs of the ears are black and topped with long black tufts about 1.75 inches long.

This tuft is the characteristic that Caracals do share with the members of the lynx family. It is the largest member of Africa’s small cats, and it’s most formidable. Males can weigh as much as 40 pounds, and females as much as 35. They stand between 16-20 inches at the shoulder, and are 35-39 inches long.

Scientific Name
Mass
Length
Conservation status
Running Speed
Caracal caracal
12 kg (Adult)
74 cm
Least Concern
50 mph [80 kmph]
Did you know: Caracals can jump more than 10 feet off the ground.

9. Clouded Leopard

Clouded leopards are two species of wild cat that live throughout the forests of Southeast Asia. The smallest of the big cats, they are secretive and rare in the wild, preferring to remain alone and hidden from view. With regards to appearance, the Sunda clouded leopard have smaller and darker cloud markings and a darker overall coat colour. Clouded leopards primarily live in lowland tropical rainforests, but can also be found in dry woodlands and secondary forests.

The cats usually stand 10-16 inches (25-40cm) tall and are 4 to 6 feet (1.2-1.8m) long, almost half of which is the tail. Males tend to be larger and weigh up to 50 pounds (23 kg), while females rank in at about 35 pounds (16 kg). Clouded leopards can live to about 17 years old in captivity. Like all wild cats, clouded leopards are carnivores. They are thought to hunt a variety of prey including birds, squirrels, monkeys, deer, and wild pigs.

Scientific Name
Mass
Conservation Status
Running Speed
Length
Neofelis nebulosa
12 – 23 kg
Vulnerable (Population decreasing)
64 kmph (40 mph)
84 cm (Adult)
Did you know: The clouded leopard is named after the distinctive 'clouds' on its coat - ellipses partially edged in black with the insides a darker colour than the background colour of the pelt.

8. Eurasian lynx

The Eurasian lynx is a solitary animal; a secretive creature that prefers dense forests full of hiding places and stalking opportunities. Often the only way humans know lynx are around is by footprints in the snow. One of the most successful of cats, the lynx was originally found from the UK to China, though in the modern age it has reduced greatly in number through Western Europe where populations are now mostly small and fragmented.

The preferred hunting technique is to stalk and pounce on prey utilising the dense cover of their preferred forested habitats, ambush hunting is occasionally used as well. As all felines, Eurasian lynx are a highly efficient hunter, quickly bringing down prey with weight, momentum, agility and claws, then killing by choking at the throat or suffocating at the mouth and nose. Greatly varied in size Eurasian lynx tend to be between 80 to 130 cm length and up to 70cm at the shoulder, generally weighing 18 to 40kg.

Scientific Name
Mass
Length
Running Speed
Conservation status
Lynx lynx
Male: 18 – 30 kg (Adult), Female: 8 – 21 kg (Adult)
55 – 75 cm (Adult, At Shoulder)
80 km/h (50 mph)
Least Concern (Population stable)

7. Cheetah

The cheetah is the world's fastest land mammal. With acceleration that would leave most automobiles in the dust, a cheetah can go from 0 to 60 miles an hour in only three seconds. These big cats are quite nimble at high speed and can make quick and sudden turns in pursuit of prey. It can run at speeds of up to 70 miles an hour (113 kilometres an hour).In one stride, a cheetah can cover 23 to 26 feet (7 to 8 meters).

Cheetahs do not roar, as the other big cats do. Instead, they purr. This big cat is a daylight hunter that benefits from stealthy movement and a distinctive spotted coat that allows it to blend easily into high, dry grasses. The cheetah will often drag its kill to a shady hiding place to protect it from opportunistic animals that sometimes steal a kill before the cheetah can eat. Cheetahs need only drink once every three to four days.

Scientific Name
Mass
Length
Running Speed
Conservation Status
Acinonyx jubatus
21 – 72 kg (Adult)
66 – 94 cm (Adult, At Shoulder)
110 – 120 km/h In Short Bursts, Running
Vulnerable (Population decreasing)

6. Leopard

Leopards are powerful big cats closely related to lions, tigers, and jaguars. They live in sub-Saharan Africa, northeast Africa, Central Asia, India, and China. However, many of their populations are endangered, especially outside of Africa Most leopards are light coloured with distinctive dark spots that are called rosettes, because they resemble the shape of a rose. Black leopards, which appear to be almost solid in colour because their spots are hard to distinguish, are commonly called black panthers.

The strongest climber among the big cats, a leopard can carry prey twice its weight up a tree. The leopard is so comfortable up there that it often stalks prey and even hauls its kills up into the branches. The leopard is the most widespread of all big cats.

Scientific Name
Mass
Length
Running Speed
Conservation Status
Panthera pardus
Male: 31 kg, female: 23 – 27 kg
45 – 80 cm (Adult, At Shoulder) ,90 – 160 cm (Adult, Head and body)
58 kmph
Least Concern

5. Snow Leopard

Snow leopards have evolved to live in some of the harshest conditions on Earth. Their white-grey coat spotted with large black rosettes blends in perfectly with the steep and Rocky Mountains of Central Asia. The snow leopard’s powerful build allows it to scale great steep slopes with ease. Its hind legs give the snow leopard the ability to leap six times the length of its body. A long tail provides balance and agility and also wraps around the resting snow leopard as protection from the cold.

Snow leopards are slightly smaller than the other big cats but, like them, exhibit a range of sizes, generally weighing between 27 and 55 kg (60 and 121 lb), with an occasional large male reaching 75 kg (165 lb) and small female of under 25 kg (55 lb).They have a relatively short body, measuring in length from the head to the base of the tail 75 to 150 cm (30 to 60 in).

However, the tail is quite long, at 80 to 100 cm (31 to 39 in), with only the domestic-cat-sized marbled cat being relatively longer-tailed. They are stocky and short-legged big cats, standing about 60 cm (24 in) at the shoulder. Long, muscular hind legs enable snow leopards to leap seven times their own body length in a single bound.

Scientific Name
Mass
Length
Running Speed
Conservation Status
Panthera uncia
32 kg (Adult)
75 to 150 cm
80 - 90 kmph
Endangered (Population decreasing)

4. Mountain lion [cougar/puma]

The mountain lion (Puma concolor) is also known as the cougar, puma, panther, and catamount, and is the largest wildcat in North America. Mountain lions have powerful limbs and can leap as high as 15 feet and as far as 40 feet. Mountain lions eat large mammals such as deer, and smaller mammals such as mice, squirrels, porcupines, raccoons, rabbits and beavers. The mountain lion and the cheetah share an ancestor.

They hunt alone and attack from behind, breaking the neck of their prey by biting it at the base of the skull. After killing their prey, they will bury it and leave it, coming back to feed on it when hungry. Mountain lions are strong jumpers, thanks to muscular hind legs that are longer than their front legs. After humans, mountain lions have the largest range of any mammal in the Western Hemisphere.

Scientific Name
Mass
Length
Running Speed
Conservation Status
Puma concolor
Male: 53 – 100 kg (Adult), Female: 29 – 64 kg (Adult)
60 – 90 cm (Adult, At Shoulder)
64 – 80 km/h
Least Concern (Population decreasing)

3. Jaguar

Jaguars are the largest of South America's big cats. Today significant numbers of jaguars are found only in remote regions of South and Central America—particularly in the Amazon Basin. Unlike many other cats, jaguars do not avoid water; in fact, they are quite good swimmers. Rivers provide prey in the form of fish, turtles, or caimans—small, alligator like animals. Jaguars also eat larger animals such as deer, peccaries, capybaras, and tapirs.

They sometimes climb trees to prepare an ambush, killing their prey with one powerful bite. Jaguars live alone and define territories of many square miles by marking with their waste or clawing trees. Females have litters of one to four cubs, which are blind and helpless at birth. The mother stays with them and defends them fiercely from any animal that may approach—even their own father. Young jaguars learn to hunt by living with their mothers for two years or more.

The name "jaguar" comes from a Native American word meaning "he who kills with one leap." Fossil records from two million years ago show evidence of jaguars. They have a body length of between 1.1 and 1.9 m (3.5 - 6.25 feet), a tail length of between 45 and 75 cms (18 - 30 inches), a shoulder height of between 55 and 76 cms (21.5 - 30 inches) and they weigh between 36 and 160 Kgs (79 - 350 lbs)

Scientific Name
Mass
Length
Running Speed
Conservation Status
Panthera onca
56 – 96 kg (Adult)
63 – 76 cm (Adult, At Shoulder)
70 mph [103 KM]
Near Threatened (Population decreasing)

2. Lion

Renowned for its majesty and nicknamed "the king of the jungle," the lion possesses both beauty and strength. Lions vary in colour but typically sport light yellow-brown coats. Mature male lions are unique among big cats due the thick brown or black manes that encircle their necks and protect them while fighting.

Lions consume a wide variety of prey, from wildebeest, impala, zebra, giraffe, buffalo and wild hogs to sometimes rhinos and hippos. They will also feed on smaller animals such as hares, birds and reptiles. Lions are also known to attack elephants when food is scarce.

An adult lion's roar can be heard up to five miles (eight kilometres) away. In the wild, lions live for an average of 12 years and up to 16 years. They live up to 25 years in captivity. Lions are the only cats that live in groups, called prides. Every female within the pride is usually related. Unlike other cats, lions have a tuft of hair at the end of their tails.

The African lion is 4.5 to 6.5 feet (1.4 to 2 meters) long from its head to its rump, and its tail measures from 26.25 to 39.5 inches (67 to 100 centimetres) long.

African lions typically weigh 265 to 420 lbs. (120 to 191 kilograms).Male lions are generally larger than females and have a distinctive mane of hair around their heads. The mane's function is to make the male look more impressive to females and more intimidating to other males, according to the San Diego Zoo. The mane also protects the male's neck during fights over territory or mating rights.

Scientific Name
Mass
Length
Running Speed
Conservation Status
Panthera leo
Male: 190 kg (Adult), Female: 130 kg (Adult)
Male: 1.2 m (Adult, At Shoulder), Female: 1.1 m (Adult, At Shoulder)
80 km/h (Maximum, In Short Bursts)
Vulnerable Population decreasing

1. Siberian Tiger

The Siberian tiger also called Amur tiger, inhabiting mainly the mountain region with a small population in southwest Primorye Province in the Russian Far East. The Siberian tiger once ranged throughout all of Korea, north-eastern China, Russian Far East, and eastern Mongolia. Tigers are the largest of all wild cats and are renowned for their power and strength.

They are powerful hunters that travel many miles to find prey, such as elk and wild boar, on nocturnal hunts. Tigers use their distinctive coats as camouflage. A hungry tiger can eat as much as 60 pounds in one night, though they usually eat less. A tiger's stripes are like fingerprints—no two animals have the same pattern. Tigers are excellent swimmers and do not avoid water. Tigers have been hunted for their skin, bones, and other body parts, used in traditional Chinese medicine.

The results of this analysis indicates that the average historical wild male Siberian tiger weighed 215.3 kg (475 lb) and the female 137.5 kg (303 lb); the contemporary wild male Siberian tiger weighs 176.4 kg (389 lb) on average with an asymptotic limit being 222.3 kg (490 lb); a wild female weighs 117.9 kg (260 lb)

Scientific Name
Mass
Length
Running Speed
Conservation Status
Panthera tigris altaica
Male: 320 kg , Female: 180 kg
3.3 m (11 ft.)
50 mph [80 km/h]
Endangered (Population stable)

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    • pratheek-h profile image
      Author

      pratheek 5 months ago from bangalore

      Thanks chethan for your keen study.

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      Chethan 5 months ago

      Table information of cats are neatly described..

    • pratheek-h profile image
      Author

      pratheek 5 months ago from bangalore

      Thank you santosh.

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      santosh 6 months ago

      Nice article...

    • pratheek-h profile image
      Author

      pratheek 6 months ago from bangalore

      Yes Keong its good choice, its Biggest Cat of all feline kingdom

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      Keong 6 months ago

      Tiger is my # 1 favorite animals

    • pratheek-h profile image
      Author

      pratheek 6 months ago from bangalore

      Thank you so much Kiran.

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      kiran kumar 6 months ago

      Nice description about the wild feline groups,Good and neat observation of wild animals totally good article keep up.

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