The ocelot also known as the dwarf leopard, is a wild cat.
Ocelots live primarily in the rain forests of South America. They also live in Central America, Mexico and even some as far north as southern Texas.
Ocelots are found in a variety of habitats, including tropical forests, savannah grasslands, mangrove forests and marshes, and thorn scrub regions.
Their primary habitat requirement is dense vegetative cover. Ocelots are found in open areas only when it’s cloudy or at night when there is a new moon.
They generally live at elevations below 1,200 meters (3937 feet) , but have been sighted at 3,800 meters (11482 feet) as well.
Average lifespan of ocelot is 10 to 13 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity.
Ocelots range in color from light yellow to reddish gray, with dark spots and stripes. They have dark stripes on their cheeks and their tailed have rings of dark fur.
The ocelot ranges from 68 to 100 centimeters (27 to 39 inches) in length, plus 26 to 45 centimeters (10 to 18 inches) in tail length.
Weight for females is from 6.5 to 11.5 kilograms (14.3 to 25.3 pounds),and for males is from 7 to 15.5 kilograms (15 to 34 pounds).
Ocelots are nocturnal, meaning they’re most active at night. During the day, they rest in the hollow trees, on the branches or dense vegetation.
Like all small cats, ocelots have very good vision and hearing.
Their eyes have a special layer that collects light.
When they’re ready to eat, the wild cats don’t chew their food—instead they use their teeth to tear meat into pieces and then swallow it whole.
Ocelot has raspy tongue, which successfully removes every little piece of meat from bones.
Ocelots spend most of their time on the ground but are strong swimmers and good climbers and jumpers.
Ocelots communicate with each other using body language, scent marking, and vocalizations.
Ocelots are territorial and solitary creatures.
Ocelots are very active, traveling from 1.8 and 6.7 kilometers (1.1 to 4.1 miles) per night. Males traveling nearly twice as far as females.
Their home ranges are between 2 and 31 square kilometers (0.7 and 12 square miles), depending on habitat. Male ranges are larger than females and do not over lap with those of other males.But male ranges tend to overlap with those of several females.
Female Ocelots are called Queens while Male Ocelots are called Torns.
Males and females gather only during the mating season. In tropical areas, ocelots can reproduce throughout the whole year. In temperate climate, ocelots mate at the end of the summer.
An ocelot family is made up of an adult female and her young. After breeding, the male and female ocelots go their separate ways. The female is pregnant for a little over two months before she gives birth in a hollow tree, rocky bluff, cave, or secluded thicket to usually 1 but sometimes up to 4 kittens.
The kittens are born with their spots but have gray coats and blue eyes that turn golden brown when they’re about three months old.
The youngster begins to walk when it is 3 weeks old. As the kitten grows, the mother ocelot teaches it how to hunt, usually at four to 6 weeks of age, and the kitten is able to eat solid food at 8 weeks, although it may continue to nurse for 6 months.
By the time it is 8 months old, the youngster’s adult teeth are in, and it can hunt for itself, but may stay in the mother’s home range for up to 2 years.
From the early 1960’s to the mid 1980’s, Ocelot fur coats sold for $40,000.00 and the live animal as a pet sold for $800.00. At one time, more than 200,000 ocelots per year were killed for their coats. Today, with laws prohibiting hunting for the fur trade, there are no Ocelot coats for sale, and the “pet” Ocelot is a thing of the past.
Today, the Ocelot is listed by the IUCN as being a species that is of Least Concern of becoming extinct in their natural environment in the near future. Although some populations are small and unstable, the Ocelot is widespread but the general population trend is now decreasing. This is mainly due to habitat loss as vast areas particularity in the Amazon, are subject to drastic deforestation and no longer provide the dense cover and adequate food supply that the Ocelot needs to survive.
It is estimated that there are anywhere from 800,000 to 1.5 million left.
Salvador Dali frequently traveled with his pet ocelot Babou, even bringing it aboard the luxury ocean liner SS France.
Its name came from the Mexican Aztec word tlalocelot, which means field tiger.
The Moche people of ancient Peru worshipped animals and often depicted the ocelot in their art.
The Belizean name for the ocelot is the same as the margay ‘tiger cat’.
The collective name for a group of Ocelots is a clowder or clutter.