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Characteristics of the Leopardus Pardalis, Ocelot

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Biology
Wordcount: 1200 words Published: 18th May 2020

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Classification: Phylum-Chordata, Class-Mammalia, Order-Carnivora, Family-Felidae, Genun-Leopardus

Physical Characteristic:

An ocelot range in length can be from 27 to 36 in for a female, from 26 to 40 in for male, and with a tail adding 10 to 17.5 in. Female Ocelot weigh from 14.5 to 25 pounds, and males weigh from 37 to 41 pounds (Hunter, 2016). Ocelot fur is dense and soft but varies in colors such as white, yellow, and black. They are robustly built with very thick limbs and a short tubular tail, too short to reach the ground. Ocelots have rounded ears that are black with a white center spot on the back. They have huge paws especially the forepaws are much larger than the hindpaws. Ocelot are very similar to the Margay but are much larger and heavily built. Young kittens of Ocelot and Margay can be very difficult to tell apart (Hunter,2016).

Geographical Range and Habitats:

Ocelot can be found in a range from Texas to southeastern Arizona. Its range extends south along both coasts of Mexico into Central and South America. (Beacham et. al. 2000). Ocelots occur in a wide range of habitats such as dense thorn shrub, wooded savanna grassland, mangroves, swamp woodland, and all kinds of dry and moist forest. They sleep in tree hollows.


Found in many states in the United States, including but not limited to: Arkansas, Arizona, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Texas. (Defenders of Wildlife, 2017)


Ocelots live in desert and grasslands, they can even be found in tropical rain forest. (San Diego Zoo, 2019)

Natural History:

Food Habits:

Ocelots are carnivores they eat and hunt animals such as rodents, rabbits, young deer, birds, snake, iguana, frogs, and fish. They have pointed fangs used to deliver a killing bite, and sharp back teeth that can tear food like scissors. Ocelots do not have teeth appropriate for chewing, so they tear their food to pieces and sallow it whole. (Sunquist, 2014)


Mating for the Ocelot can occur at any time of the year. The females go through a 7 to 10-day period of estrus. Once the pair has mated, they will part ways. Following a 79 to 85-day gestation, young are born in litters of one to three. Kittens are independent after about one year but may stay with their mother for an additional year. (Hunter, 2016)


Ocelots are solitary animals. They are strongly nocturnal, resting in trees or dense brush during the day. Ocelots are very active, traveling from one to five miles per night. Males usually travel further than females. They can capture an average of one prey item for every 3.1 hours of travel. (Beacham et. al. 2000)

Special Adaptions to their Physical Environment:

They are muscularly built with large, very powerful forepaws and a robust skull with large canines, a prominent sagittal crest and strong zygomatic arches conferring great biting power. These adaptations enable the Ocelot to overpower large prey. (Hunter, 2016)


As with many other small spotted cats, the ocelot has been persistently hunted for its pelt. Although it is protected in the United States by the Endangered Species Act and worldwide by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, trade in ocelot skin is brisk. An ocelot coat has been known to fetch as much as US $40,000 (Beacham et. al. 2000). With such demand, illegal poaching is likely to continue despite efforts to enforce rules. But as more people are becoming aware of the growing lack of small spotted cats, fur coats sales are facing increased social hostility, which is dampening the fashion for the cat’s pelts.

Government Agencies:

Some agencies are in charge of keeping track and maintaining the ocelot population are the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, and The Nature Conservancy (Peters, 2016).

Legal Status:

As a species, ocelots are not endangered, according to Defenders of wildlife (Defenders of Wildlife, 2017). They are classified as least concern because they have a wild distribution, from northern Argentina to the southwestern United States. Their total population ranges from around 800,000 to 1.5 million (Defenders of Wildlife, 2017)

Other Comments:

Ocelot live up to 13.8 years in the wild (Sartore, 2018) In captivity, they may live up to 30 years




Best Book:

  • Hunter, L. 2016. Wildcats of the World. Bloomsbury, New York

Best Article:

  • Beacham, E. W., F.V. Castronova, and S. Sessine. 2000. Beachman’s Guide to the Endangered Species of North America. Mammals, Birds, Reptiles 1: 58-60   

Best Online Source:

San Diego Zoo. 2019. San Diego Zoo Animals and Plants. Accessed at https://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/ocelot on 6/10/19

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