Kodkods fit into a normal forest food web. They feed on small rodents, reptiles, birds, and large insects. They fall prey to larger mammals in the area (pumas and foxes) as well as humans and domestic dogs (Encyclopedia of Life 2014). Their fur coloration provides great camouflage. Kodkods are nocturnal when in the proximity of humans, but they are diurnal in wild areas. They have excellent vision, hearing, and sense of smell. They communicate by chemical cues, vocalizations, body postures, and tactile cues. They are great climbers as well. This allows them to climb trees when a predator is near or just to take temporary shelter (Acosta-Jamett et. al 2003).

The males are known to prey on free-ranging chickens andculpeo fox geese. The locals consider these cats as pests because of that. The cats themselves are too small to be sought after in the fur trade. Most locals trap them and leave them to the foxes (International Society of Endangered Cats 2013). Even though the locals see them as a small threat, they can have positive impacts as well. Because the kodkod feeds on small rodents, it helps contain an overwhemling rodent population. This allows farmers crops to grow better and can aid in disease control caused by rodent vectors (The World Conservation Union 1996).

                                                                                                     Figure 7. This is an image of a culpeo fox, which
                                                                                                    resides in the same habitat as the kodkod. It can
                                                                                                    be found at Wikimedia Commons.

Even though there have been laws set in place to protect kodkods from being hunted, the native people do not always obey these laws. Ancient stories protray kodkods as blood-sucking vampires (Freer 2004). Most farmers blamed the guina (native name for kodkod) for killing their chickens and goats. They would go on guina hunts and kill multiple on each trip. The word guina (pronounced "huina") in native Chiliean languages, means "thief." Due to these negative folktales, people are not particularly sensitive to the fact that the kodkod's habitat is being used for ulterior uses (Herrmann et. al 2013). The colonization of the kodkod’s small habitat is causing the species to become endangered. The species is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN. It received this status of vulnerable in 1996. They are fully protected in Argentina and Chile, but only some areas enforce these laws (The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013). They are safest in the protected areas of Nahuel Huapi National Park in Argentina and Nahuelbuta National Park in Chile (Norwall et. al 1996). Humans are turning the forests into eucalyptus plantation sites. As long as the rodent population stays steady, the kodkod should have a chance to thrive (The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013).

For more information on the vulnerability of this species, and a donation option, please visit The International Society of Endangered Cats or The Felidae Conservation Fund.

eucalyptus plantation

Figure 8. This image is of a eucalyptus plantation in its final stages of production. It can be found at Wikimedia Commons.


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