Why Are Ocelots Endangered?

Ocelots are not considered endangered, as of 2014, but they are threatened by poaching, hunting and habitat loss. Only one subspecies of ocelot in Texas and Mexico is endangered for these reasons.

The biggest threats facing ocelots are poaching, hunting and habitat loss. Ocelots are prized and poached for their beautiful, spotted and striped fur. Furthermore, they are captured and sold in the exotic pet trade.

Ocelots once ranged from Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas through Mexico and Central America to South America. However, destruction of natural habitats has reduced the numbers of ocelots found in the wild. The wilderness that once supported ocelots has been settled by humans or has been cultivated for agricultural use. Because ocelots can adapt and live near humans, they have also been killed to reduce the predator's numbers.

The most vulnerable of the ocelots is a subspecies found in Texas and northeastern Mexico. Less than 1,000 are left in the wild, and they survive largely because of wildlife corridors. Maintaining and preserving these corridors is paramount to preventing the extinction of this subspecies.

Ocelots are about twice the size of a domesticated cat, growing between 28 and 35 inches long and weighing up to 35 pounds. They live on small prey such as rodents, rabbits and fish.