The ocelot ( Leopardi’s pardalis ) is a medium-sized wild cat common on the American continent. The small cat belongs to the species Leopardus and the Felidae family. The ocelot is one of the most famous wild cats.
Name: Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) Body
length: 50-101 cm + 30-50 cm tail
Weight: 8-15 kg
Color: pale yellow, yellow-beige, yellow-brown to grayish; black spots, rosettes, and stripes
Characteristics: rounded ears, stocky legs, large paws
Habitat: American continent; Forests: bushland to tropical rainforest
The ocelot (Leopardi’s pardalis) is mainly characterized by its spotted fur. It is mostly pale yellow to yellow-brown or grayish. The dark spots are often rosette-shaped and merge into longitudinal stripes on the sides. The neck and belly are white. The ears are round and black, each with a white spot. The tail of the Leopardus pardalis is short, with black rings on top. The legs are strong; the paws are quite large.
Genetically, the ocelots are quite different depending on their habitat. Therefore they are divided into several subspecies. Officially, only two subspecies have been recognized so far, the Leopardus pardalis, which is distributed from Texas to Costa Rica, and the Leopardi’s pardalis mitis, which lives in South America. Most importantly, they are of different sizes. Animals that live in humid climates are, on average larger than those that live in drier areas.
The ocelot lives in America. It is widespread in South and Central America. In South America, it is found in the north of Argentina. Only in Chile can he not be found. The cat is common throughout Central America. In North America, we can find it in Mexico and southern Texas. Until some time ago, we could find it in other southern states of the USA, such as Arizona and Arkansas.
Its habitat is quite diverse. In general, we can say that he prefers areas with heavy vegetation. Here the ocelot can be found from bushland to the tropical rainforest. It lives in mangrove forests as well as in the grass steppe. He can stay in coastal marshes as well as in the subtropical rainforest. The ocelot is one of the largest and most abundant small cats in tropical America.
Like most big cats, the ocelot is mainly active at night and dusk. During the day, the cat rests in trees, bushes, or depressions in the ground. He hunts mainly on the ground and can adapt his prey pattern well to the respective conditions. In addition to rodents, he also hunts birds. Since he is an excellent climber, he can also prey on a monkey or a sloth. During the night hunt, the animals hike up to 7 kilometers to find prey. The Leopards pardalis is a loner.
Because the ocelot is so widespread, its roaming areas often overlap with other small cats’ habitats. These are then at a disadvantage compared to the ocelot since it makes them controversial for food and can even be directly dangerous. Therefore other types of cats are much rarer. One speaks here of the “ocelot effect.”
The range of a male animal is up to 43 km. It includes about 2-3 areas where females are. However, the roaming areas of female cats are much smaller, with a maximum of 16 km. This also depends strongly on the area in question. In Texas, the areas are rather smaller.
Since the ocelot is one of the most common feral cats, it is not classified as endangered. Nevertheless, it is under protection in almost all distribution areas because it was endangered by the trade-in its fur, especially from the 60s to the 80s. In Texas, there are also efforts to protect the animal from traffic accidents.
As with many wild animals, a current threat to the ocelot is the destruction and fragmentation of the habitat, especially through clearing. Although the ocelot was previously considered to be very adaptable, a population decline is now suspected.
The ocelot is, of course, not suitable as a pet. But cats are more common in the zoo. Since many cat lovers admire the beautiful predator, several years have been attempted to breed a domestic cat that looks similar to the ocelot. This gave rise to the so-called Ocicat. Unlike the Savannah cat and the serval, for example, the Ocicat and ocelot are not related.
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