Sneak cat and Catawampus

This big cat has over 40 names in English; names like Mountain Screamer and Deer Tiger, Swamp Lion and Indian Devil**.

But we are more familiar with the names Cougar, Puma, and Mountain Lion.

Cougars are the fourth largest cat in the world, but are not considered a true big cat because they cannot roar. They do hiss, growl and purr, and are well-known for their screams**.

IK1*: Adult coloring is plain (silvery to tawny to red)

IK2: Lighter contrasting fur from underbelly up to chin

IK3: black coloring around whiskers

Check out the links below for some fun information about cougars!


*Identification Key (More about identification keys here.)

**cougar names

cougar scream

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Big cats with circles and rosettes

Let’s start with seeing the differences in those big cats that have black spots on tan; the cheetah, the leopard, and the jaguar.

The IKs* are fairly simple, and if you can remember them, you will never have trouble telling these black & tans apart again!

Cheetah IK: Believe it or not, the only big cat with simple round black spots is the cheetah.

Leopard IK: This cat has a flower-like pattern of black spots called rosettes. They are the same size all over the body. There is a slightly different fur color inside each one.

Jaguar IK: Jaguars also have rosettes, but they are larger in the middle of the body, and have black dots inside. There is a slightly different fur color inside each one.

Okay, so what cat is in the photo above?

Look for my next post on the patterns of clouded leopard vs snow leopard.

*On many of my blog posts,  I will provide some specific Identification Keys, or IKs, as seen and described in the photos. (More about identification keys here.)


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Hunting with Cheetahs, 1939

This is a National Geographic video, from 1939, of an Indian prince using cheetahs to hunt.

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What roars and what doesn’t

These are the true big cats…because they can roar!  But there are four more felines traditionally called big cats who cannot roar, but are….well….big! See those below:

Stay tuned for my next post where you will learn to identify the spotted big cats on sight…it’s soooo easy!  And more fun than searching for that song you love on your playlist!  🙂

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How to be a BIG cat…

So what do you have to do to be classified as a big cat? You have to be able to…. roar!

An expanded classification of big cats also includes four more felines that can’t roar, but are big in size.

Below is a snapshot of the fur colors and patterns of the eight big cats. Let’s see how many you can identify:

In my next post, we will take a closer look at the patterns and give you some keys that will help you “spot” them…ha ha.

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The REAL king of beasts

The cheetah is my favorite big cat.  It has its own little genus and species, its own little idiosyncrasies. It’s a cat that has little talent for climbing, but can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 3 seconds…faster than an ultra-high-end sports car.

Some cheetahs also have a rare fur pattern mutation. Cheetahs with larger, blotchy, merged spots are known as “king cheetahs”.

Although often mistaken for a leopard because of its spotted pelt and similar size, it’s easy to identify a cheetah:

1st IK: Just look for the distinctive black “tear marks” that run from its eyes, along the nose, and to the mouth.

2nd IK: Tan with round black spots all over

3rd IK: Small head for body size, long legs and tail

*On many of my blog posts, I will have photos showing readily identifiable characteristics of each animal. I will provide a general description that gives clues to help identify the animal, and then some specific Identification Key, or IKs, as seen and described in the photos. (More about identification keys here.)


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Something phony about this guy…

Looks like a gharial…but it’s not!  This is the False gharial, classified as a freshwater crocodile. It is found in Malaysia, Sumatra, and Borneo. Check out the differences close-up in the snouts of the False gharial and the real gharial below.  What characteristics of the true crocodile do you see in the False gharial on the left?*

*Gharial photo by John White, courtesy of the Berkeley Digital Library Project.

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The Great White…alligator??

Alligators and crocodiles can be born albino.  This means they are without pigment, or coloration.  A true albino has pale skin and red eyes, like Whitie here, an albino alligator at the Serengeti Park in Hodenhagen, Germany.

But alligators and crocodiles can also be born leucistic (loo-SIS-tik), which means they are born with a small portion of pigmentation. Their eyes are dark, and they have pale skin with some pigmented areas. Take a look at the pictures below to see what albino and leucistic crocodilians look like.

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Crocodilian correctness

Here are the answers to the last post on crocodiles.  Check it out and see well you did!

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Got Croc? A test….

Let’s see how you do on this test for crocs, gators, & gharials.  Should be fairly simple to figure it out if you remember these three things:

  • Snout shape
  • indent in snout (or not) for lower 4th tooth
  • visible upper/lower teeth.

Okay. let’s go!

Next post I’ll give you the answers…not that you need them….right?  🙂

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