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Ocelot Felis pardalis


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credit: Tom Smylie

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Family: Felidae, Cats view all from this family

Description A solidly built spotted cat, with a short tail that barely touches the ground. Larger than the Margay, with a shorter tail and a more robust skull structure. Rare and Endangered in Texas.

Dimensions 95-137cm, 28-40cm, 7-14kg; / 92-121cm, 27-37cm, 7-11kg

Endangered Status The Ocelot is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered in Arizona and Texas. The Ocelot population has declined drastically because of the loss of its habitat to agriculture and residential development, deliberate eradication by farmers trying to protect small livestock and poultry, and the trade in exotic furs and pets. The species is now fully protected in the U.S., and the trafficking of skins and the selling of live Ocelots as pets are banned. These cats require large expanses of densely brushed habitat, which is hard to come by in southern Texas, where the last U.S. cats are found. Efforts are underway to restore Ocelot habitat in the Rio Grande Valley, but whether this handsome animal can be saved in the U.S. remains to be seen. (The Ocelot still survives, though in small numbers, in Mexico.)

Breeding Solitary except when mating, which can occur in any month of the year; 1-3 kittens are born after gestation of 70-80 days.

Habitat Forests & woodlands, Scrub, shrub & brushlands

Range Plains, Southwest, Texas

Discussion This nocturnal hunter feeds on a variety of small prey, especially rodents. May travel 6km per night when hunting. Sleeps in dense thickets during the day. Uses a wide range of tropical habitats with vegetative cover.