The Ocelot

Created By: David Grinstead

Classification Order

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Felidae
  • Genus: Leopardus
  • Species: Pardalis
  • Scientific Name: Leopardus pardalis
  • Common Name: Ocelot

Evolutionary Relationships

An ocelot has many relationships with other animals. Some include a cat, a jaguar, a leopard, a panther, and a puma. The Margay, which is a small wild cat from South America that has stripes and spots, is closely related to the ocelot, even though it is a lot smaller.


Most ocelots settle in jungles of the Amazon Basin. They live in rain forests located in South America, are found in forests that are seasonally flooded, and love the vegetation in marshes. Ocelots settle under canopies, occupy grasslands, and are sometimes found in Texas, far north. Rarely any ocelots live in the state of Texas, where they are endangered. Ocelots are widespread and populate areas all the way from southern Texas to northern Argentina. They can be found at elevations of 1200 and even 3800 meters. This animal is also found in settlements including villages and may adapt to human habitats. Ocelots are also capable of inhabiting the Andes Mountains.


Ocelots are carnivores, meaning that they eat meat. Most of their diet consists of 65 to 66% of small rodents. Usually, ocelots eat mammals that are small and medium-sized and hunt animals and reptiles including snakes, small deer, birds, crabs, fish, mollusks, iguanas, frogs, rabbits, and lizards. They also eat anteaters, turtles, mice, rats, monkeys, armadillos, crustaceans, and even birds that are domestic.


Many large carnivores feed on ocelots including Pumas and Jaguars. Also, the Anaconda snake and the Harpy Eagle prey on this animal. The ocelot defends itself with camouflage using its "distinctive" fur and has very good senses. Aside from animals feeding off of ocelots, humans hunt them as well because of their "unique" pelt.

Size and Weight

  • Size: 24 inches - 54 inches/ 2 - 4.5 feet
  • Weight: 25 pounds - 35 pounds


Ocelots are able to swim very well, climb trees, and jump high. At nighttime, ocelots mostly hunt on the ground and swim in ponds and rivers to catch and eat fish. Sometimes when an ocelot wants to take a nap, it jumps to branches on trees located very high above the ground. Ocelots are considered to be very active animals because they move at a rate of over 12 hours per day and have a top speed of about 38 miles per hour. Male ocelots usually travel about twice as far as females.

Social Interactions

Since ocelots do not work together in groups, they are known as solitary animals, meaning that they live most of their lives by themselves, without coming into contact with their species. Even though they travel alone, ocelots still try to find mates using loud noises. Ocelots do not keep a mate for life because their mating system is called polygyny, or polygynous, which means that the male may mate with more than one female.


  • Once ocelots mate, females have a litter of about 1-3 kittens and "are thought to have 1 litter every 2 years."
  • Ocelots are "year-round breeders."
  • By themselves, females care for their young ones before they become independent at the age of 1.


  • To make sure that animals can hear them, ocelots "communicate between one another using soft meows which turn into loud yowls when looking for a mate."

Endangered Status

From the 1960s to the 1980s ocelots were endangered in Texas because hunters were killing them for their fur. Also, many people capture ocelots to be kept as pets, which is another reason that they are endangered. Many ocelots experience hard times because their habitats are "threatened" by deforestation. This means that ocelots will have to find other places to live besides forests. Many countries, including the United States, are trying to fix this problem by protecting these animals. As of today, ocelots are "of least concern of becoming extinct." The only subspecies out of the 10 different subspecies that is endangered right now is called Leopardus pardalis albescens.

Interesting Facts

  • Also known as the "Painted Leopard."
  • Ocelots can be as big as a 6-foot man!
  • Ocelots "can travel distances of up to seven miles."
  • Many cultures in Peru worshiped ocelots.
  • Salvador Dali, a famous artist, had a pet ocelot named Babou and traveled with it often.


Ocelot Kitten Learns to Fish

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