An excellent hunter, the ocelot primarily hunts small rodents and also will take small deer, armadillos, reptiles, and other small animals. Though it can climb trees and even swim well, the ocelot spends most of its time hunting on the ground, as long as the habitat provides thick plant cover and abundant prey.
Did You Know?
Ocelot arose from the Aztec word tlalocelot, which means ``field tiger``. Brazilian Ocelots are sometimes referred to as “painted leopards” or “dwarf leopards”.
Decorated with dark splotches and stripes, its golden coat camouflages with the foliage and hides the hunter from its prey. Like most other small cats, the ocelot is a nocturnal hunter. With whiskers, large ears, and eyesight six times better than a human’s, the ocelot has no trouble tracking down prey as it patrols the forest floor at night.
- Once widely hunted for their beautiful fur, ocelots now face a greater threat—habitat loss.
- About 100 Texas ocelots (Leopardus pardalis albescens), a related subspecies, live in the United States.