guigna, chat du Chili (French)
Chilenische Waldkatze, Nachtkatze (German)
Description and Behavior
Pearson (1983) examined the small mammal fauna of the southern Andean
moist temperate forest, focusing on Argentina’s Nahuel Huapi National Park, where
the kodkod is known to occur. He found that this forest type, with which the
kodkod is strongly associated (see below), has a high diversity of mouse-sized
rodents, but lacks diversity of larger mammals, noticeably of the arboreal type
(no squirrels or monkeys). Most of the small rodents are terrestrial,
semi-fossorial and diurnal. Kodkod stomachs have been found to contain remains of
small rodents, Norwegian rat and birds (Koslowsky 1904, Housse 1953, Greer
1965a). Kodkods have also been reported to take poultry (Guggisberg 1975,
Melquist 1984). While believed to be primarily nocturnal (Miller and
Rottmann 1976), Green (1991) notes that most activity takes place
during the day in captivity.
The origin of the kodkod’s name is obscure. It may be from one of the Mapuche
Indian dialects, and probably originally referred to the pampas cat (O.
colocolo) -- "colocolo" may be a Spanish corruption of "kodkod" (F.
Jaksic in litt. 1993). O. guigna is most commonly called the
güiña (pronounced gwee-nya) in Chile and Argentina.
Litter size (C): 1-3 (P. Quillen in litt. 1993);
3-4 (Housse 1953)
Longevity (C): up to 11 years (Weigel 1975)
No other information.
Habitat and Distribution
Sclerophyllous scrub occurs in central Chile, from about 30-37S (Udvardy 1975).
Only one specimen has been collected from this habitat type, which is structurally and
faunistically quite different from the Valdivian forest. That specimen (from the
Valparaiso area, 33° S) was described as paler than the Valdivian kodkods, with
a larger skull and heavier dentition. Osgood (1943), who classified the
specimen as a separate subspecies (O.g. molinae), remarked on its similarity
to the "salt desert" race of Geoffroy’s cat, found in the Andes of north-western
Argentina, and speculated that further specimens might arise to link the two cats,
although this has not occurred. In Chile, Geoffroy’s cats are known to occur only in
the Nothofagus beech forests of the far south, and this race of Geoffroy’s cats bears
little resemblance to the Valdivian kodkod (Cabrera 1961). It is puzzling that
the kodkod should show such marked differences in habitat association, implying a
broad habitat selectivity, and still have such a restricted distribution, implying
Moreover, the kodkod is tolerant of altered habitats, being found in secondary forest
and shrub as well as primary forest, and on the fringes of settled and cultivated
areas. C. Weber (in litt. 1993) notes that the Valparaiso area, where the
kodkod is still present, has been settled for over 1,000 years, and was deforested,
except for small remnant patches, at least 150 years ago.
The kodkod has historically been described as quite common (Osgood 1943, Cabrera
and Yepes 1960). However, in the dry scrub of central Chile, 10% of the country’s
area but home to two-thirds of its population (Weber 1983), habitat loss has
led to localized and patchy distribution (J. Rottmann in litt. 1993). In
general, however, the southern forested part of its range is well protected and
sparsely populated by humans. Even where its habitat has been altered, such as in
central Chile, where 15,000 km2 of pine and
eucalyptus plantations have been established (C. Weber in litt. 1993), kodkods
may do well as rodent populations thrive (J. Rottmann pers. comm. in Melquist
The kodkod seems to live at higher densities on Chiloé Island (Melquist
1984), possibly linked to the absence of the puma, grey fox and Andean fox (J.
Rottmann in litt. 1993). In the mid-1800s, the German naturalist Philippi
described groups of kodkods raiding chicken houses, with up to 20 cats being killed
by farmers in a single day (Cabrera and Yepes 1960, Guggisberg 1975). Farmers
there still complain of poultry depredation by the kodkod (Melquist 1984).
© 1996 IUCN - The World Conservation Union