Pampas cats are native to the pampas grasslands - the South American equivalent of the prairie or steppe – which are found mainly in Argentina, east of the Andes. These cats have also spread south into Argentina’s cold and desolate Patagonia region. They are found in the forests of the Andes, too, and can even survive above the tree line.
Pampas cats thrive in areas of swamp, but they are equally at home in drier regions, such as the Paraguayan Chaco – an arid shrubland that lies between the pampas and the fringes of the Amazon rainforest. Pampas cats are grey in the high Andes, with reddish stripes and spots. In Argentina, their coats are longer and yellow-brown. Brazilian pampas cats have long hair too, but their fur is also redder. These cats hunt at night for cavies and other small mammals, and also ground-nesting birds, such as tinamous. During the day, pampas cats rest in trees or in hidden dens.
Distribution: South America, from Ecuador, Peru and Brazil to southern Argentina.
Habitat: Mountains, cloud forest, brushland, woodland and pampas (grassland).
Food: Small mammals and ground birds.
Size: 57 cm (22.5 in); 5 kg (11 lb).
Maturity: 2 years.
Breeding: Single litter of 2 – 3 kittens born in summer.
Life span: 15 years.
The pampas cat is the most widespread of all South American cats. The colour and patterns of the fur vary greatly across its range. The most conspicuous features are the ears, which are larger and more pointed than those of other American cats of a similar size.