The ocelot is the second largest spotted cat in the Americas (jaguar is the largest). Because of that beautiful coat, this cat is sometimes called a “painted leopard.” Although the ocelot is stunning to see, it does have a rather strong body odor.

The ocelot is known as a finicky eater since it will pluck feathers or fur from prey it is about to eat. Its pointed and sharp teeth are well adapted for tearing meat, but not for chewing, so the ocelot tears its food into smaller pieces to swallow whole.


Leopardus pardalis

Distribution: Forest, shrubland and savanna from northern Argentina to the southern United States

Diet in the Wild: Small mammals, birds, reptiles, and sometimes larger prey such as monkeys and armadillos

Diet at Caldwell Zoo: Feline diet, mice, fish and eggs

IUCN Red List Status: Least concern, population decreasing

Texas Parks and Wildlife Status: Endangered

Threats: Habitat fragmentation and loss, poaching

Interesting Facts:

Ocelots are nocturnal, hunting during the night and resting during the day.

Ocelots are born with their spots and stripes, but have a gray coat. The coat will change to the adult golden coloration with pale belly as the ocelot ages.

The patterning on an ocelot is unique to that specific ocelot! No two have the same patterning.

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