Leopardus [Felis] pardalis
Ocelots have short, close fur marked with both solid and open dark spots that sometimes run in lines along the body. The tail is ringed with black or has black bars on the upper surface. The large ears are rounded with a prominent white spot on the back. These medium sized cats weigh 15.5-28.75 lb. with a head and body length of 26-39.25 in. and a tail length of 10.25-16.25 in.
Class: Mammal (Mammalia)
Range: Southern Texas, Mexico, Central America and South America to Argentina
Habitat: Tropical and subtropical evergreen forests, dry deciduous forests, dry scrub and seasonally flooded savannas
Lifespan: 20 years (captivity)
Wild Diet: Rodents, small mammals, occasional agouti, birds, fish, snakes, lizards and land crabs
Zoo Diet: Canine diet, bones once weekly
Solitary, with breeding females occupying non-overlapping territories of .3-5.8 sq. mi. Males have larger territories which overlap those of several breeding females. Ocelots are nocturnal. As they move about their territories they get to know their neighbors and they may stay together for several hours to as much as a couple of days. While some of these encounters are for mating, purposes of other associations are unknown.
Young begin to follow their mother at about 2 mo. but remain dependent on her for several more months. Young ocelots disperse from their natal range when they are about 2 years old. Females raise their young alone and may spend 17 hours a day hunting in order to find enough prey to support herself and her cub. The long gestation, small litter size and slow maturation of young may be adaptations for living under conditions where food is hard to find. In the northern part of their range births are normally in the fall and winter. In the tropics it is not likely there is seasonal breeding.
Gestation: 78-82 days
Litter: 1-3, usually 1
Conservation Status: Least Concern
- Ocelots are strong swimmers and are able to cross rivers and move between patches of high ground in seasonally flooded habitats. They can be tamed but have very pungent thick sticky urine that creates a lot of work for a pet owner.
- The Genus name, Felis, is from the Latin felis, "a cat." The species name, pardalis, is from the Latin pardus, "a panther, or a leopard" and alis, a suffix meaning "related to."
- Ocelots eyesight is six times better than humans, so has no trouble tracking down prey at night.