Kodkod Smallest Cat in Americas

Adult Kodkod CatThe kodkod (or güiña) is the smallest cat native to the Americas. They live mostly in Chile and measure between one and two feet long from their nose to the base of their tail, which is itself less than a foot long. Their fur is yellow- or grey-brown with dark spots, a white belly, and a striped tail. Melanistic variation is quite common with kodkods. These kodkods have a dark coat with faint spots.

Kodkods prefer temperate rainforests to other types of forests, although they may also be seen in habitats disturbed by logging or human building. They live in environments with pine trees and bamboo and are excellent climbers. They are active in both the day and night but only travel over land at night. During the day, they remain under cover of vegetation, both living and dead. Typically, kodkods will travel less than a mile per day, although in fragmented habitat they have been tracked as traveling several miles to find food and shelter.

 

Baby KodkodKodkods are territorial but tolerate a lot of overlap between their ranges. Even between individuals of the same sex, a great deal of territorial overlap occurs. Males’ territories are larger than females’. Not much is known about the social or mating habits of kodkods. Litters usually are comprised of one to three kittens. It is likely that mothers raise the kittens on their own and devote much time to teaching the kittens how to hunt before becoming independent.

The diet of kodkods consists largely of birds, as well as rodents and lizards. Many of the birds they prey on are domestic, such as geese and chickens. This brings them into contact with human civilization, which often poses a threat in the form of humans defending their birds, as well as cars and dogs. Another threat that kodkods face is logging, which destroys their habitat and clears land for agriculture.

Adult Kodkod Among Rocks

 

In order to conserve this species, it will be important not only to leave them undeveloped and unaltered forest to live in, but also to rehabilitate their reputation with the humans who live nearby. Now, kodkods are seen as pests who prey on livestock. However, kodkods also control rodent populations and prey on invasive species which carry disease. Kodkods are listed as a Vulnerable species at present. There is still so much to learn about them but information is scarce because of their rarity.

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