Ocelot

Leopardus (Felis) pardalis

SUBFAMILY

Felinae

TAXONOMY

Felis pardalis (Linnaeus, 1758), Mexico. OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Ocelot; German: Ozelot; Spanish: Tigrillo, ocelote, gato onza.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Length 26-38 in (65-97 cm); tail 11-16 in (27-40 cm); weight 18-35 lb (8.5-16 kg). Ocher to orange yellow coat in forest animals, grayer in arid scrub, striped and spotted black, white underside. Ringed tail.

DISTRIBUTION

Southeast Texas to north Argentina.

HABITAT

Varied, including tropical forest, savanna, marshes, mangroves. Needs dense cover. Tolerates disturbed habitat and human settlement.

BEHAVIOR

Territorial and strongly nocturnal. An excellent climber and swimmer. Homes range of 0.8 to 12 mi2 (2 to 31 km2), depending on habitat. Population also includes significant numbers of nonbreeding transients.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Small mammals, birds, reptiles. Prey varies seasonally, may take spawning fish and land crabs in wet season. May follow prey odor trails.

Leopardus pardalis Lynx canadensis

Leopardus pardalis Lynx canadensis

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Polygamous. Gestation 79-85 days, litter one to three. Young independent at one year, but may be tolerated in adult's range for another year.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not listed by IUCN. Hunting and trapping severely reduced populations in some parts of range, but populations may now be recovering and recolonizing.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Heavily exploited for fur trade from early 1960s to mid-1970s, when up to 200,000 a year were trapped. International trade fell from mid-70s and ceased in late 1980s. ♦

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