We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is the Oncilla?

By Christian Petersen
Updated Jun 04, 2024
Our promise to you
All Things Nature is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All Things Nature, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The oncilla is a type of small wild cat found in forested and jungle areas of South America and a small part of southern Central America, particularly highland areas. Its scientific name is Leopardus tigrinus, but it is known by a number of other common names, including the tiger cat, the little spotted cat, and the cunaguaro among others. It is one of the smallest of the wild cats, and a full grown adult is similar in size to an average house cat, although it typically weighs less than 6.6 pounds (3 kg). They have beautiful coats that resemble the leopard's, with a lighter base color mottled with dark spots. These cats are considered at risk as a species and are under pressure due to reduction of habitat and are hunted heavily for their fur.

Central and South America have several species of small wild cat, and the oncilla is considered to be one of the most beautiful. It has a very thick, rich, short-haired coat with a base color of tan or ruddy yellow that is heavily mottled with dark spots of brown or black. Both the base color and the spots fade to a much paler hue on the underside of the animal while the spots become irregular stripes or bands as they near the head and the face. It's large, widely set round eyes are brown or golden, and its tail is very long and decorated with irregular spotty bands. The paws are fairly broad for the cat's small size, and the pattern of spots continues right to the toes, gradually decreasing in size.

These cats are found in a number of habitat types but prefer highland forests rather than the lowland jungles. They sometimes inhabit grassy areas and even semi-arid scrubland. They share habitat with other cats, such as leopards and other small cats. Their small size allows them to coexist with other species as they rarely compete for the same prey. The oncilla also seems to adapt to intrusion by human activity better than some other species, as long as the intrusion is not destructive to their habitat, such as cloud forest coffee and cocoa plantations, which actually create an opportunity to study these animals.

In build, the oncilla is proportioned more like the heavily built leopard than the sleek cheetah, although on a much smaller scale. They are excellent climbers and spend part of their time in the trees but tend to hunt on the forest floor. They are part of a group of animals called obligate carnivores, which means they must consume meat as a primary part of their diet. They are opportunistic hunters, and depending on their particular region and habitat, may hunt rodents, small birds, lizards, or even tree frogs. They tend to hunt at night but may be active during the day depending on their primary prey and its habits.

The oncilla exhibites cross breeding with similar species in some areas. Not much is known about this process and how it affects the involved species or whether the hybrids are fertile and breed back into other populations of either parent species. Some of the species known to cross with the oncilla include Geoffroy's cat and the pampas cat. At least four subspecies of these cats are known, their distribution mainly corresponding to broad geographical regions in which they are found.

In many countries within its range, the oncilla is protected, but hunting is still allowed in some areas. Conservation groups continue to work to help preserve the animal and its habitat in many regions. Breeding program efforts to curtail worldwide trade in oncilla pelts are just one of these efforts.

All Things Nature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
All Things Nature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All Things Nature, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.