Ocelots are sometimes given the common name dwarf leopard, because of their resemblance to the larger cats. It looks like a mix of a domestic cat and a jaguar.
Ocelots are found from the Northeastern slope of Mexico to the north of Argentina. They often inhabit tropical forests, mangrove swamps, montane and pre-montane forests. In Costa Rica, they can be found at La Selva Biological Station, Peñas Blancas National Park, Santa Rosa National Park, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and Arenal Volcano National Park among others.
Mating & Reproduction
Ocelots are considered bi-annual breeders for the most part. The female’s cycle can put her in heat for seven to ten days, and mating can occur anytime of the year. A litter most commonly consists of only one kitten, but two to three kitten litters also occur infrequently. The female makes a den in a cave, tree or thorny thicket, and gestation lasts from 79 to 82 days.
Ocelot kittens are born blind, and have a very slow development stage in regards to other felids. They open their eyes after a little more than two weeks, and start to leave the den after about three months. Kittens might not seek to become independent from their mother until after two years.
Compared to the Margay, the Ocelot is far more terrestrial. It is not as agile a climber as its relative, and spends more time on the ground hunting by night. This nocturnal cat eats small mammals, reptiles and amphibians; birds, crabs, fish, rabbits, opossums and rodents. The last three make up the majority of the Ocelots diet. The Ocelot may find its prey via odor trails, but it has incredible sight to the extent of night vision, also.
Many people keep Ocelots as pets, and notable Ocelot owners have been artist Salvador Dali and musician Gram Parsons. Dali even took his Ocelot, Babou, joy riding on the ocean liner SS France.
Where to see it in Costa Rica: La Selva Biological Station, Peñas Blancas National Park, Santa Rosa National Park, Arenal Volcano National Park, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve
Diet: mammals, small reptiles, small amphibians, birds, crabs, fish, rabbits, opossums, rodents
Migration Pattern: non-migratory
Habitat: tropical forest, mangrove swamps, savanna, montane & pre-montane forest
Size: length=68-100 cm (nose to tail) weight=8-18 kg
Species: Leopardus pardalis