The ocelot is a small wild cat native to the southwestern United States, Mexico, and Central and South America. This medium-sized cat is characterized by solid black spots and streaks on its coat, round ears, and white neck and undersides. It weighs between 8 and 15.5 kg (18 and 34 lb) and reaches 40–50 cm (15 1⁄2–19 1⁄2 in) at the shoulders. It was first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1758. Two subspecies are recognized: L. p. pardalis and L. p. mitis. Read more
Typically active during twilight and at night, the ocelot tends to be solitary and territorial. It is efficient at climbing, leaping and swimming. It preys on small terrestrial mammals, such as armadillo, opossum and lagomorphs. Both sexes become sexually mature at around two years of age; they can breed throughout the year, though the peak mating season varies geographically. After a gestation period of two to three months, the female gives birth to a litter of one to three kittens. They stay with their mother for up to two years, after which they leave to establish their own territories.
The ocelot prefers areas with dense vegetation cover, high prey availability, and proximity to water sources. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, and is threatened by habitat destruction, hunting and traffic accidents. Populations are decreasing in many parts of its range. The association of the ocelot with humans dates back to the Aztec and Incan civilizations; it has occasionally been owned as a pet. Close