L’Ocelot it is a mammal belonging to the feline family with a splendid spotted coat, much appreciated since the Mayan era. The specimens are concentrated mostly in the rainforests of Central America and equatorial South America.
This beautiful feline boasts a fur similar to leopards and al leopard: cross and delight of this species that for decades has been hunted to the point of almost total extinction in America. Today it is no longer included in the lists of animals at risk of extinction, although the threat of the fur trade continues.
Also, since the 1960s, the fashion of raising them at home as if they were pets. Let’s find out more about this beautiful feline, what the law says, if it is truly tameable.
Ocelot: physical characteristics
This wild feline is also called the American ocelot, ocelot cat, margay or ocicat cat. It belongs to the genus Leopardus and to the family of Felidae.
It is similar in size and appearance to some breeds of giant cats even if it is a wild animal. In fact, it comes to measure from 50 cm to 1 m in length and weigh around 9 to 13 kg.
In addition to the hair it is also distinguished by large round eyes, larger ears than a house cat. Furthermore, being wild animals they have sharp teeth, for hunting, and live between 10 and 12 years at the most. Its verse is similar to a howl, not to the meow of the various breeds of domestic cats.
But what makes this feline unique is certainly the extraordinarily beautiful spotted coat, similar to that of the leopard.
This is its true beauty. It has streaks and spotted areas of black color, on a brown or reddish background, towards the legs and the tail the black spots are more and more dense, while in the areas of the muzzle, neck and shoulders, the stripes are more present and evident. , always black irregular.
The sheen and coat-like appearance of the leopard are also the downfall of this feline, which has led to it being the subject of a close hunt. And it risked extinction.
What animal is the leopard
This feline is also known by the name of leopard and is very common in South America and Central America ..
Where is the Ocelot
It lives in the wild throughout South America, with the exception of the western slope of the Andes and the southern desert areas of Argentina, Central America and some parts of the southern United States. It is widespread today in Mexico and in Texas, Arizona and Peru.
It prefers the called areas chapparal (scrub areas typical of the southern United States and Mexico), swampy spaces, large grasslands and tropical forests, with mangroves, in which to hide to hunt. This is why it is called the American leopard, precisely because of its origin.
Ocelot mating and pups
Like other felines, ocelots are mostly solitary animals, after the mating period they tend to live alone again. The litter is usually a couple of animals at a time, after a gestation of about 80 days.
As soon as they are born, the cubs remain next to the mother in the den: the female ocelots, like other mammals, take care of the first months of the cub’s life until it is completely weaned. The mother feeds them while the male returns to his solitary life.
As soon as self-sufficient, the puppies follow their mother and learn to get food on their own: around 3 months of life they are independent but usually remain in the same territory as their mother for several months, sometimes years.
What Ocelots Eat
These felines are wild and naturally carnivorous. From an early age they are used to hunting small rodents and different types of birds and even fish.
The preferred prey are mice, spiny rats, porcupines, possums and badgers, but sometimes they manage to hunt even larger animals, such as the aluatta (small South American monkey), the sloth, the tamandua (a Mexican anteater) and the mazama (a South American herbivore similar to a fawn).
In the case of a specimen raised in captivity, in breeding, or even at home, the diet becomes similar to that of cats. It is therefore based on meat, vegetables, fish, meat, cheeses and offal, but also cereals and milk.
Domesticated cats tend to gain weight and therefore it is advisable to follow a controlled diet, followed by your veterinarian, not to give them foods that are bad for cats such as sweets, eggs, spicy foods, and above all to always guarantee them a good physical activity.
How much does an Ocelot cat cost
Being rare and especially difficult to find, breeding specimens are quite expensive. It is difficult to find wild specimens captured and in any case, being an animal accustomed to its habitat, it should remain there and not relegated to a home.
In some countries it is possible to buy them from controlled farms and keep them as domestic cats. They cost approx 3000-4000 euros.
Before trying to buy an ocelot it is best to take an interest in what the law says about trading in Leopardus Pardalis.
Ocelot and his spotted coat
The Ocelot has a very distinctive coat that resembles both the cheetah and the leopard, which has both streaks and dark spots. The base of the hair, on the other hand, can have different shades from one example to another:
There are numerous factors that influence the distribution of spots and stripes and also the color of the coat in general: it depends on the habitat, sex and age. The coat is streaked because the Ocelot cat is a hunter and the streaks are used to blend in with its hunting environment.
A soft and dense coat that has cost him his life since ancient times. Yes, because the coat is a beautiful warm and soft fur that was initially used by the Indians out of necessity, to warm themselves.
Then, unfortunately, it was discovered by Western fashion and between 1960 and 1970 the Ocicat was massively hunted especially in North America until it was considered, between 1972 and 1996, an animal at risk of extinction complete with inclusion in the IUCN Red List.
Is the ocelot dangerous?
In reality it is a wild cat and as such it needs to live: free, outdoors and with lots of natural space to move around.
The character is not aggressive, but like all felines, he too is not very sociable, crepuscular (that is, he is more active after sunset) and loves to live in solitude. You don’t have to bother him and the salient features of his character are:
- Hunting is the main activity nocturnal
- Mark the territory with a very strong smell and can be aggressive in case of intrusion into its living space
- Emitting a steady, high-pitched growl when it is playing.
- Jumping, climbing and they are extremely fast and agile
- Being biting: they are prone to biting and like many other felines, during the fight they point to certain parts in particular such as the opponent’s such as the elbow, armpit or neck
Ocelot: is it a domestic cat?
The Leopardus paradalissince the 1960s, he has also become a popular pet especially among bizarre personalities and artists, such as Salvador Dali for example.
However, before opting for such a choice, it is important to underline that it is a wild animal, it is born and grows in freedom and is used to living in nature and hunting for food.
For this reason it is one of the wild animals that not all countries allow to be raised or kept at home. Let’s see what the European law says.
Ocelot: trade and legislation
It is not an endangered species, but it remains in constant control and its trade is totally illegal.
CITES, the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, has banned the trade in this feline. Nonetheless, in America some independent states allow the possession of this exotic cat.
The European Union prevents its passage through customs to arrive in any EU country. Its trade in Europe has been banned since 1990 and is included in the list of least endangered species.
Prohibition of hunting of the Ocelot
In addition to the trade aimed at the domestication of this feline, it should be remembered that hunting is prohibited practically all over the world. From 1972 to 1996 it was included in the IUCN Red List as an endangered and vulnerable species.
In particular in the areas where it is present in the wild, it is still illegal today to hunt it in: Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, French Guiana, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago , United States, Uruguay and Venezuela.