The ocelot (Leopardus pardalis)

The ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) is one of the remarkable specimens of felines. The Latin name of this mysterious predator means "similar to a leopard", however in Latin America and South Texas — places where ocelots live — there are no leopards. And the word "ocelot" likely has Aztec roots and comes from the word "océlotl", i.e. a "field tiger".

Ocelots' lifestyle is very sneaky; they tend to be active in the dark. The ocelot feels completely safe only where it is surrounded by a dense wall of vegetation — in tropical forests or dense shrub thickets. Ocelots live alone and hunt primarily at night.

They like to hide in the trees during the day's heat. Despite their excellent skill allowing them to climb on trees and rocks, they hunt on the ground. To hunt, the ocelot must have a reliable cover from where it can track down its prey, and without dense vegetation it will hardly survive. Like all small cats, ocelots have very keen hearing and sight.

Ocelots mainly hunt for small mammals and birds, but sometimes even snakes can be their prey. The ocelot equally eagerly hunts on the ground and under the crowns of tall trees, where it hunts for monkeys. In addition, ocelots are excellent swimmers. A special layer on the inside of the eyes allows them to see at night just as well as a man sees at day.

Night time is its realm; it feels most comfortable in the darkness. Besides hearing and vision, the ocelot relies on the sense of smell while hunting — its nose is more sensitive than humans, but inferior to the nose of a dog. Its long whiskers serve as antennas allowing it to navigate in the environment. Like most felines, the ocelot's teeth are intended for eating meat.

However, its teeth are completely unadapted to chewing food, so it swallows the whole torn off pieces of meat. The ocelot has white spots ("false eyes") on the back of each ear, which help mislead predators and also help cubs follow their mother through dense forest's undergrowth. The ocelot has one of the most beautiful colour patterns in the entire animal world. Its golden fur is covered with the most bizarre combinations of stripes, spots, specks, dots, streaks and dots everywhere.

The lower part of the body is always lighter with a cross pattern, with black spots merging into strips on its stomach. The spots often form lines on its back, but here they are stretched and brighter than on the edges. Strong paws of the ocelot are dotted with small speckles. The paw pads are dark.

In appearance, the ocelot resembles a margay or a leopard cub — it is larger than a margay, but smaller than a leopard. Ocelots are solitary animals eagerly protecting their personal space.

Mating may occur at any time of the year. Two and a half months later the female gives birth to one or two cubs, which feed off mother's milk for seven weeks. Around the age of two, they leave their native habitat. For a long time, the ocelot's hide has been a popular commodity. For example, more than 133 thousand hides of ocelots were imported to the United States in 1969. In the 1980s, coats made of ocelot's fur cost $ 40,000 and the live ocelot as a pet sold for $ 800. Due to intensive hunting, ocelots nowadays have become extremely rare animals.

Thanks to the new international agreements, hunting ocelots and selling any products made of ocelots are prohibited.

Ocelot characteristics

  • Size: body length 0.8-1.3 m, tail 31-40 cm, shoulder height 40-50 cm.
  • Weight: male 13-16 kg; female 10-12 kg.
  • Lifespan: up to 18 years in nature, up to 25 years in captivity.
  • Breeding season: throughout the year, with the peak in June-October.
  • Puberty: females after 18 months, males after 24 months.
  • Pregnancy: lasts 75-80 days.
  • Litter: 1-2 kittens. Newborns have soft rare fur. They open their eyes after 15-18 days. Lactation lasts up to 7 weeks. Two years later, the young kittens leave their mother and its territory.

Ocelot subspecies

  • Leopardus pardalis pardalis, along the Amazon River
  • Leopardus pardalis aequatorialis, Northern Andes
  • Leopardus pardalis albescens, Mexico, Texas
  • Leopardus pardalis maripensis, Venezuela, Guyana
  • Leopardus pardalis mearnsi, Central America
  • Leopardus pardalis mitis, Argentina, Paraguay
  • Leopardus pardalis nelsoni, Mexico
  • Leopardus pardalis pseudopardalis, Colombia,
  • Leopardus pardalis puseaus, Ecuador
  • Leopardus pardalis sonoriensis, Mexico
  • Leopardus pardalis steinbachi, Bolivia

Ocelot habitat

  • Latin America

Scientific classification of the ocelot

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Felidae
  • Subfamily: Felinae
  • Genus: Leopardus
  • Species: Leopardus pardalis

For availability, reservation and purchase of an ocelot kitten from future litters, please call (+371) 22 125 125, (+371) 27 144 144 or write to the following email address: info@leonbaltia.com