Ocelot
Leopardus pardalis

CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Carnivora
FAMILY: Felidae

SIZE:
20 - 38 inches; 25 - 30 lbs.; second largest of the New World cats but much smaller than jaguars, the largest. Their tail can be 9 - 20 inches long

RANGE:
From southwestern Texas to Central and South America to Paraguay. Once plentiful in the U.S. as far east as Arkansas and Louisiana, but rarely if ever seen here.

HABITAT:
Variety of habitats including dense forests and humid jungles, the brush and chaparral as well as marshes and river banks.

DIET:
Wild - Birds, squirrels, young deer, peccaries, monkeys, coatis, rodents, and reptiles

Zoo - Feline zoo diet (Carnivore). Can eat about 5 lbs. of meat a day.

FACTS:

  • Binocular vision -- cats have proportionally the largest eyes of all carnivores. They are directed forward, and while this position does not give all-around vision, it makes possible the accurate judging of distance, an ability that naturally is of vital importance in stalking and catching prey. Excellent vision day and night for hunting.
  • Acute hearing, even though the ears are relatively short. Being retractable keeps the claws sharp for seizing and holding prey.
  • Hunt on the ground but are expert climbers; occasionally will catch birds, monkeys, or squirrels in trees. Strong swimmer, but does not enter the water readily.
  • Stalk and stealth -- stalks prey until it is within close range, then rushes its target. Are solitary animals and do not live in family units, hunt on their own. Usually milder disposition than most wild cats. Generally nocturnal; usually sleeps during the day in trees or hidden under cover.
  • Its beautiful golden fur is soft and sleek with black spots on the body and black stripes on the head and neck. Coloration works as camouflage making it easy for this quiet moving animal to hide among shade and shadows of trees.

YOUNG:
Usually one or two in each litter; females may have more than one litter a year and care for them alone.

STATUS:
CITES App. I; ENDANGERED due to habitat destruction and over hunting. As with all spotted cats, their beautiful fur makes them targets of the fashion industry. Although trade in ocelot skins is illegal, ocelot coats can cost as mush as $40,000. Remember, it takes more than one ocelot to make a coat - MANY MORE!