Small spotted Cat - Felis nigripes

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Afrikaans Kleingekoldekat
Tswana Sabalabolokwane

4 cm


3 cm
Covered by females near dens

Unusual features/differences from similar animals

Dark bands on top of the shoulders and legs as well as on the body. The spots on the back of the African wild cat are not defined. The tail has a black tip and is short as opposed to  the African wild cat which has a long tail.

Visible Male/Female Differences

Males are larger than females

Habitat and Distribution

Dry, open grassland and scrub


Rodents, shrews, hares, rock rabbits, birds and small vertebrates and invertebrates. Also takes birds' eggs and scavenges.


Up to three kittens weighing 60-90g are born in summer after a gestation of 63-68 days. There may be 2 litters a year. Eyes open at 3-9 days and takes solid food at 32-35 days. Kittens are weaned by 2 months and are independent at 3 months. They remain their mother's home range.

Behavior and Habits

Solitary and active at night. Shelters during the day in burrows or holes in termite mounds from which it gets its Afrikaans name "miershooptier"- which directly translated is termite mound tiger. They hunt employing the classical feline method: a stalk, rush, pounce and grabbing the prey with the front claws. Prey is found by active searching or by patiently waiting at rodent burrows. Birds may be snatched from the air. Small mammals are killed with a swift head or neck bite. The the whole animal is eaten, including the guts. Excess food is stashed away for later consumption. They haveterritories with home ranges of 700-900 ha. Young males scent mark with sprayed urine. 


A repeated loud, deep 'raaow' is a contact call and made during breeding period. 

Dung and Field Sign

Fairly large for such a small cat. Covered by females near dens.

Safari Media Africa/C.A. Mitchell 2000-2012

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