The Southern Tiger Cat (Leopardus guttulus) is one of the small spotted cat species of South America also known as Southern Tigrina or Southern Oncilla. This species was previously a subspecies of Oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus), however in 2013 the Oncillas were split into a northern and southern species according to new molecular evidence. These small cats are nocturnal and sparsely distributed so are difficult to study and can be easily confused with the other small spotted cats of South America. Habitat loss and fragmentation are the primary threats to their survival.
Note: The images on this page may either be the Northern Tiger Cat / Northern Oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus) or the Southern Tiger Cat / Southern Oncilla (Leopardus guttulus) under the revised taxonomy.
Key Facts about Southern Tiger Cats
~ Described as a distinct species in 2013 ~
~ Historically hunted for the fur trade ~
~ Few studies & little known ~
Southern Tiger Cat (Leopardus guttulus) Classification
The Southern Tiger Cat / Southern Tigrina / Southern Oncilla belongs to the genus Leopardus and the full taxonomy, scientific classification or higher classification of the Southern Tiger Cat species (Leopardus guttulus) is as follows:
Kingdom: Animalia (animals)
Phylum: Chordata (vertebrates)
Class: Mammalia (mammals)
Order: Carnivora (carnivores)
Suborder: Feliformia (cat-like)
Family: Felidae (cats)
Subfamily: Felinae (small cats)
Species: Leopardus guttulus (Southern Tiger Cat)
Southern Tiger Cat (Leopardus tigrinus) Subspecies
In 2013 the Southern Tiger Cat (Leopardus guttulus) was described as a separate species due to new molecular evidence, previously a subspecies of Oncilla / Tigrina (Leopardus tigrinus guttulus).
The current Felidae taxonomy revision describes the Southern Tiger Cat as a monotypic species (no subspecies), pending further research. The cat's distribution covers south-east and southern Brazil, northern Argentina and possibly Paraguay.
Southern Tiger Cat Conservation & Research
The global conservation status for the Southern Tiger Cat is Vulnerable (VU) and populations are declining.
The following organizations are dedicated to research and conservation of the smaller cats of Latin America:
Please support these organizations with their important work. No matter how small or large your donation, every bit helps!
Southern Tiger Cat Facts and Information
The following websites have well researched and authoritative information on Southern Tiger Cats:
- Southern Tiger Cat Fact Sheet - International Soc. for Endangered Cats (ISEC)
- Oncilla Images and Video Clips in the Wild - ARKive (no page for Southern Tiger Cat / Southern Oncilla as yet)
Books on Neotropical Cats
Currently there is no publication in print dedicated to just the cats of Central and South America.
A book entitled Neotropical Cats by TG de Oliviera was published in 1994 however is no longer in print, and may be available in libraries or in used book stores.
The latest information on these cats can be found in books about all wild cats such as those below.