Indian Tiger » Wild Cats » Ocelot
Tiger, Ranthambore Tiger Reserve


OcelotOther common names of Ocelot include "painted leopard" and "tigrillo." The fur may be anywhere between cream and reddish grey marked with open-centered dark spots that run in lines across its body like links in a chain. The dappled camouflage of the fur allows it to blend perfectly with its surroundings. Obviously, the pattern and color varies from individual to individual. Ocelots are 21-39 inches long with a 12-18 inch tail. They weigh from 25 to 35 pounds

Zoological name: Leopardus pardalis

Species: This has led some workers to separate them, with the margay and oncilla into a separate genus. Wozencraft (1993) in the latest, controversial, review of felid systematics placed the margay (L. wiedii), the oncilla (L. tigrina), and ocelot together, in the genus Leopardus.
Eleven subspecies of ocelot have been described:
- F. (L.) p. pardalis Vera Cruz to Honduras
-F. (L.) p. aequatorialis Costa Rica to Peru
- F. (L.) p. albescens Texas to Tamaulipa, Mexico
- F. (L.) p. maripensis Orinoco to Amazonas
- F. (L.) p. mearnsi Nicaragua to Panama
- F. (L.) p. mitis East and Central Brazil to north Argentina
- F. (L.) p. nelsoni Sinaloa to Oaxaca, Mexico
- F. (L.) p. pseudopardalis North Venezuela to north Colombia
- F. (L.) p. pusaea South west Ecuador
- F. (L.) p. sonoriensis Arizona to Sinaloa, Mexico
- F. (L.) p. steinbachi Central Bolivia

Presence on the planet: Once found in many areas of southern North America, Central America and much of South America - today the animal has almost disappeared form its range in the southern states of North America and particular sub-species, notably L.pardalis.albescens are threatened by the conversion of large areas of plain into arable farm land - it is reported that as few as 120 ocelot survive in Texas today.

Physical appearance: The Ocelot is much larger than its cousins the Margay and the Oncilla, although they bear a striking resemblance. The Ocelot weighs between 17-24 pounds, stands 16-20 inches tall, and reaches lengths of 48-64 inches. Its coat tends to be more blotched than spotted, and the chain-like blotches and spots are bordered with black, but have a lighter colored center. These markings run the entire length of the cat. The ground color varies from whitish or tawny yellow through reddish gray to gray. The underside is white, and the backs of the ears are black with a central yellow spot.
Diet:The Ocelot is a terrestrial hunter and active during the night (nocturnal), and the mainstay of its diet are nocturnal rodents, such as cane mice, and marsh, spiny and rice rats, opossums and armadillos. They will also take larger prey such as lesser anteaters, deer, squirrel monkeys and land tortoises. They will also take advantage of seasonal changes and the abundance of fish and land crabs during the wet season. Occasionally, the will take birds and reptiles. However, the majority of prey items for this cat weigh less than 1-3% of its body weight.

Reproduction & Offspring: Minimum breeding age for females is 18 months, with the maximum breeding age around 13 years. Males mature at approximately 15 months, with a maximum breeding age of 15 years. In the tropics breeding takes place year round, especially September to November. Females enter estrus an average of every 4 to 6 months, and estrus lasts 7 to 10 days unless conception occurs (in which case the average is 5 days). Gestation period varies between 79 and 85 days. Litter sizes are small, usually only 1 or 2 young, with the rare occurence of 3. Females provide all of the care for their young, males do not provide parental care.

Conservation status: Ocelots are protected by the Lacey Act, which makes it illegal to transport, import, export, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase any wild animal that was taken in violation of the law. Ocelots do fairly well living in close proximity to humans as long as hunting pressure isn't too intense and they have the appropriate habitats available to them. Habitat destruction is the primary threat to ocelots throughout some areas of their range.

In the United States they are also protected by the Recovery Plan for the Listed Cats of Arizona and Texas, the primary objective of which is to maintain the ocelot populations in Texas. The plan includes provisions to further the study of ocelots in their wild habitat and an information and education program to get public support behind the effort to protect this species.

Life span: 16 - 20 years
Save Ocelot!

Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis). Although once commonly imported for pets, legal animals have not been available until the last 2 years, and today most ocelots are of unknown or hybrid ancestry. The TAG is recommending that the Brazilian ocelot, L. p. mitis, be the subspecies acquired by North American zoos because captive propagation now is occurring in some Brazilian zoos. Orphaned individuals also have been allowed to be exported. Recently three pairs were imported into North America by AZA zoos. The target population of this species is 120 individuals.

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