Pampas Cat

(Leopardus colocolo)




Facts about this animal

Pampas cats look like heavy set domestic cats. Their head-body length ranges from 53-70 cm, the height at shoulder from 30-35 cm, and the body weight from 3 to 7 kg. The legs are short and stout. The tail is bushy and rather short, between 22 and 32 cm i.e. less than half the head-body length.


The face is broad, the muzzle short, and the nose pad fairly large. The ears are large and more pointed than in other neotropical small cats, but there are no pencils on the tips. The colour of the iris is amber, and the pupils contract into verticla slits.


The fur is long and coarse. The hairs on the back are up to 7 cm long forming a dorsal crest. Basic colour and pattern vary enormously, and it has been suggested that the Pampas cat may in fact be three different species: Leopardus pajeros, occurring in the high Andes from the Equator to Patagonia and throughout Argentina, Leopardus braccatus from Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, and Leopardus colocolo from Chile.


Pampas cats are predominantly nocturnal, although they may be observed in daylight hours in the wild nocturnal.


After a gestation period from 80 to 85 days, the female gives birth to a litter of usually 1 to 3 kittens.


The Pampas cat feeds predominantly on small mammals, such as guinea pigs (Cavia), small marsupials, and even pacas (Cuniculus) which have about the same body weight as the cat itself, tinamus and other ground-dwelling birds.

Did you know?
that pampas cats have been observed to take penguin eggs and chicks from nests?


Name (Scientific) Leopardus colocolo
Name (English) Pampas Cat
Name (French) Chat des pampas
Name (German) Pampaskatze
Name (Spanish) Gato de los Pajonales
Local names Bolivia: gato peludo
Brazil: Gato palheiro
Chile: Gato colocolo
Ecuador: Gatillo
Guaraní: Mbaracayá-tí
Peru: Osjollo, chinchay
Various countries: Gato montés, Gato pájero, Osio
CITES Status Appendix II
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Juan Villalba



Range South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay
Habitat Grassland, savanna, shrubland, desert
Wild population Estimated at below 50,000 mature breeding individuals, with a declining trend.
Zoo population 10 animals reported to ISIS (2008)

In the Zoo

Pampas Cat


How this animal should be transported

Transport crates should be sufficiently large to meet legal requirements and sufficiently strong to prevent escape or damage to the crate and animal. Basic design should allow free flow of air through multiple sides of the container. Preferably, a double door design at least on one end of the crate should be used. The "inner" door should have bars or wire mesh to contain the animal, and the "outer" door should consist of a thin panel of expanded metal or plywood that provides safety for the handlers and isolation for the animal. The doors should travel vertically to facilitate animal transfer and contain a secure locking system. The crate should drain well, and absorbent bedding should be used to prevent the animal from being exposed to or lying in urine or excreta.


The shipment should be organised in a way to minimise stress. The animal should have access to its transport crate for 2 weeks before shipment, preferably being fed within it. If an extended trip is anticipated, water and food as may be required should be provided while the animal is in transit.


For air transport, Container Note 82 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Juan Villalba

Why do zoos keep this animal

Pampas cats are rarely kept by zoos outside the species' range. Keeping would be primarily for educational purposes to display a species of neotropical grasslands, however the Geoffroy's cat is more frequently used for this purpose.