Oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus)Spanish name: Caucel
About The Oncilla
This wild cat lives commonly in premontane forests as well as lowland forests, and may also be found in some cloud forests.
The oncilla spans from Costa Rica across northern South America to Brazil; in southern Costa Rica it generally lives above 3,000 m.
May be found in Corcovado National Park and Cerro de la Muerte.
Biology and Natural History
Also known as the "Little Spotted Cat,' the oncilla is so named because it is the smallest cat in Costa Rica and one of the smallest wild cats in the neotropics. It is usually a pale color with closed black spots and two pairs of strong black strips on the sides of the neck, but in some parts of northern Venezuela, all-black individuals may be found. This small cat is nocturnal and terrestrial, focusing on small prey. It is very shy and solitary, and because its tracks are almost identical to a domestic cat's, it can go rather anonymously about its hunting if humans live in the area. Females will have one or two kittens at a time.
The oncilla mostly preys on birds and small rodents.
Adults have a head and body length of 34-56 cm, and a tail length of 19.8-22 mm; they weight 1.5-3 kg.
Eisenberg, John. Mammals of the Neotropics, Vol. 1. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1989.
Koford, C. B. in Janzen, Daniel H. Costa Rican Natural History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.
Wilson, D. E. in Janzen, Daniel H. Costa Rican Natural History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.
-Amy Strieter, Wildlife Writer