Definitions

ocelot

ocelot

[os-uh-lot, oh-suh-]
ocelot, medium-sized cat, Felis pardalis, of Central and South America. It is occasionally found as far N as Texas. The ocelot has a yellow-brown coat with black spots, rings, and stripes. It is about 30 in. (76 cm) long, not including the 14-in. (35-cm) tail, stands about 16 in. (41 cm) high at the shoulder, and weighs up to 35 lb (18 kg). Ocelots live in forests, where they hunt, mainly on the ground, both by day and by night. They prey on birds, snakes, and small mammals. Litter size varies from 2 to 4. Ocelots are hunted for their pelts, which are used for coats and trim. They are able to be tamed and are sometimes kept as pets. They are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Carnivora, family Felidae.

Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis).

Species (Leopardus pardalis) of cat found in forests, grasslands, and brush-covered regions from Texas to northern Argentina. The ocelot is 36–52 in. (90–130 cm) long, excluding the 12–16-in. (30–40-cm) tail. It stands about 18 in. (45 cm) and weighs 24–35 lbs (11–16 kg). The upper body varies from whitish to tawny yellow to gray. The head, neck, and body are marked by specific patterns of black stripes and spots: spots on the head, two stripes on each cheek, oblong spots arranged in chainlike bands on the body, and bars or blotches on the tail. The ocelot hunts at night for small mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish. It is listed as an endangered species in the U.S.

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The Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), also known as the Painted Leopard, McKenney's Wildcat, Jaguatirica (in Brazil) or Manigordo (in Costa Rica), is a wild cat distributed over South and Central America and Mexico, but has been reported as far north as Texas and in Trinidad, in the Caribbean.

The Ocelot's appearance is similar to that of the domestic cat. Its fur resembles that of a Clouded Leopard or Jaguar and was once regarded as particularly valuable. As a result, hundreds of thousands of Ocelots have been killed for their fur. The feline was classified a "vulnerable" endangered species from the 1980s until 1996, but is now generally considered "least concern" by the 2006 IUCN Red List.

Taxonomy and name

The name ocelot comes from the Nahuatl word ōcēlōtl which usually refers to the Jaguar (Panthera onca) rather than the Ocelot.

Subspecies

The following are the currently recognized subspecies:

Physical characteristics

It can be up to 1 m (3'2") in length, plus 45 cm (1'6") tail length, and weighs 11.5–16 kg (25–35 pounds), making it the largest of the generally dainty Leopardus wild cat genus. While similar in appearance to the Oncilla and the Margay, which inhabit the same region, the Ocelot is larger. The Ocelot has the lowest resting body temperature of any feline. It has a tawny to reddish brown coat marked with black spots and rosettes. The fur is short, and lighter beneath. There is a single white spot on the back of each of its ears, and there are two black lines on either side of its face. It has a black-banded tail.

Behavior

The Ocelot is mostly nocturnal and very territorial. It will fight fiercely, sometimes to the death, in territorial disputes. Like most felines, it is solitary, usually meeting only to mate. However, during the day it rests in trees or other dense foliage, and will occasionally share its spot with another Ocelot of the same sex. When mating, the female will find a den in a cave in a rocky bluff, a hollow tree, or a dense (preferably thorny) thicket. The gestation period is estimated to be 70 days. Generally the female will have 2–4 kittens, born in the autumn with their eyes closed and a thin covering of hair.

While the Ocelot is well equipped for an arboreal lifestyle and will sometimes take to the trees, it is mostly terrestrial. Ocelots hunt over a range of , taking mostly small mammals (deer, rabbits and various rodents), reptiles and amphibians (lizards, frogs, and turtles), crabs, birds and fish. Almost all of the prey that the Ocelot hunts is far smaller than itself. Studies suggest that it follows and finds prey via odor trails, but the Ocelot also has very keen vision, including night vision.

Distribution and habitat

The Ocelot is distributed over South and Central America and Mexico, but has been reported as far north as Texas and in Trinidad, in the Caribbean.

The Ocelot once inhabited the chaparral thickets of the Gulf coast in south and eastern Texas, and was found in Arizona. In the United States, it now ranges only in several small areas of dense thicket in South Texas. The Ocelot's continued presence in the U.S. is questionable, due largely to the introduction of dogs, the loss of habitat, and the introduction of highways. Young male Ocelots are frequently killed by cars during their search for a territory. The feline was classified a "vulnerable" endangered species from the 1980s until 1996, but is now generally considered "least concern" by the 2006 IUCN Red List. The Texas Ocelot subspecies, Leopardus pardalis albescens, is still classified as endangered as of the IUCN's 2006 red list.

Other

Like many wild cats, it is occasionally kept as a pet. Salvador Dalí frequently traveled with his pet Ocelot, even bringing it aboard the luxury cruise liner SS France.

The Moche people of ancient Peru worshipped animals and often depicted the Ocelot in their art.

References

External links

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