SPECIES PROFILE

The Pallas’s cat, also known as manul, is a small wild cat, perfectly adapted to the harsh conditions typical of its habitat. Naturally secretive, it is rarely seen and little known.

  • Short legs and dense fur for stocky appearance and insulation
  • Coat colouration and flat ears set on the sides for supreme camouflage
  • Characteristic black spots on the forehead
  • Round pupils, unlike in most small cats

DISTRIBUTION AND HABITAT

Wide but fragmented distribution throughout montane grasslands and steppes of Central Asia.

  • Eastern Mongolia to western Iran
  • Core populations in Mongolia and China
  • Range encompasses 16 countries
  • Distribution becomes progressively scattered and isolated further west

BEHAVIOUR AND ECOLOGY

Habitat and diet specialist, highly dependent on rocky areas and pikas (small hare-like animals).

  • Uses refuges or dens for feeding, raising young, cover from predators and thermoregulation
  • Most active during dawn and dusk
  • Large home range for its small size
  • Can give birth to up to 8 kittens
  • Lives up to 6 years in the wild

THREATS AND PRESSURES

The Pallas’s cat is unlikely to go globally extinct in the near future. However:

  • Many populations are small, isolated and declining
  • Species at risk of localised and regional extinction
  • Faces numerous threats- e.g. habitat degradation and fragmentation, dog predation, loss of prey, accidental capture

CONSERVATION BIOLOGY

Specific habitat requirements and low densities = vulnerable to changes in land use

Dens and refuges critical for survival = threatened by declines in burrowing mammals

Highly reliant on pikas = sensitive to fluctuations in prey numbers

Wide-ranging behaviour = increased risk of human-induced mortality

  ©Steven Ross

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Although little is known about Pallas’s cat vocalisations in the wild recent research in captivity (by a member of the PICA team) has found that they do become vocal during the breeding season. The research which remotely recorded all vocalisations found that they have a range of vocalisations from typical felid hisses and snarls to a more unusual call used in the breeding season. Used mainly at night these unique and elusive cats most likely use this call to attract other Pallas’s cats prior to mating.