Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis)
Fun Fact: The ocelot is a symbol of regeneration.
Body and Skeletal Structure:
Ocelots range around 22 to 40 in (55-100 cm) for their head-to-body length, while their tail adds about 10-16 in (26-41 cm) to their total length. They also weigh around 14.5 to 35 lbs (6.6-16 kg). Like most animals, the females tend to be smaller and less heavier than their male counterparts.
Fun Fact: Ocelots are the second largest spotted cats in South America, after jaguars.
An ocelot’s short and thick fur ranges from being a golden to reddish-grey color over most of its body, with white or cream on the belly. Splashed over the background color are all sorts of black or dark brown spots, arranged in a doughnut shape (or rosettes), with dark tan in the middle. Sometimes, these spots link together and form chains or stripes running along the cat’s sides and back. The ocelot has two stripes along its cheeks and a stripe running from the top of the eye over the head. The feline’s eyes also have white fur around them, and its tail often has dark rings around the end and bands closer to the body. Wherever these patterns are missing, the ocelot usually has many small dots and blotches taking up the rest of the space. As for the kittens, they’re fully marked with spots at birth, but their coat is gray, their lower limbs are dark, and their eyes are blue, changing to brown at around three months of age.
Fun Fact: Each ocelot has a different coat pattern.
Ocelots are carnivorous and mainly prey on small rodents. However, they are also known to eat birds, monkeys, snakes, iguanas and other lizards, baby peccaries, young deer, rabbits, fish, frogs, crabs, armadillos and anteaters. If the carcass can’t be eaten in one feeding, the lithe feline covers it and returns the next night to finish its meal.
These felines tend to live to be around 8-14 years old.
Mating Season: Year-round (Usually towards the end of summer though.)
Gestation Period: 79-85 days
Litter Size: 1-4 kits (Average: 2)
Communication and Behavior:
The ocelot is a solitary animal, with the temporary exception of a female and her young (since kittens live with their mothers for up to two years before setting off on their own). It occupies a home range that can be up to 30 square kilometres, depending on the surrounding environment. Ocelots communicate with each other using body language, scent marking, and vocalizations. An arched back, stiff legs, and tail held straight down is an example of a threatening posture. The cats “chuckle” when excited, may “mutter” to each other, and yowl during courtship. Males, and females, mark territories and trails by clawing logs, spraying vegetation with their urine, and leaving feces prominently on trails. These males also tend to patrol territories that are often double the size of those of the females’, and that overlap the home ranges of a number of females. The ocelot is a nocturnal animal that spends its days sleeping either in thick vegetation or on a high and leafy branch. They have excellent sight, touch and hearing which all help them when hunting at night. The ocelot is an incredibly secretive animal that is very rare in some parts of its natural range and is one that relies heavily on dense vegetation, only venturing into open areas during the night.
Fun Fact: Ocelots are picky eaters; they will remove the fur and feathers from their prey before they eat it.
Habitat and Range:
Ocelots live in and adapt to various types of habitats including tropical jungles, grasslands, mangrove forests, marshes, thorn scrubs. They especially prefer areas with thick vegetation.
As of now, the ocelots are labeled as “Least Concern” for their conservation status. However, they are constantly threatened by poaching, habitat loss, deforestation, and the illegal wildlife trade (where they are sold for their fur or as pets).