The ocelot is a medium sized wild cat. For Americans it is about the size of the American bobcat (the most widely distributed wild cat in the US, incidentally). The ocelot weighs around 8 to 10 kgs normally. Some are larger. The tail is short and the ears are rounded.The fur of this stunning coat lies close to the body as you can see in the photos. The coat looks as if it was painted on.
|Ocelot - photo copyright Fundacion Jocotoco|
These are camera trap photos by worldandtrust on Flickr. The photographs have been improved substantially by me and amalgamated. At the time of publication on this page the photographer is yet to grant permission as they are not licensed for general use under creative commons (26th Nov. 2011 - permission granted - thank you).
The background color varies between tawny yellow to gray. The spots join up in some areas to form lines. As is usual for wildcats the undersides are white. The tail has well delineated black bands on the top surface. It is possible to confuse the ocelot with the smaller margay. The margay has a longer tail and is about half the weight of the ocelot.
The ocelot's habitat is found in southern Texas (as at 2002 - are they still there?), the coastal areas of Mexico and Central and South America - see range map.
The ocelot lives in a variety of habitats including tropical forests, dry thorn forest, mangrove and flooded savanna. Often the ocelot shares its habitat with the jaguar (much larger), puma, margay, oncilla and jaguarundi.
The ocelot hunts on the ground but is a highly skilled tree climber and jumper. Ocelots feed mainly on mammals such as possums, mice and rats. Prey is usually about one tenth of the size of the cat.
The ocelot is a solitary animal. The species is ranked as Least Concern by the Red List. This means it is not currently (2011) threatened with extinction. One positive factor is that it is adaptable to human settlement and activity.