The ocelot is a small nocturnal cat found in North and South America. The pattern and color of its coat allow it to blend in with its scrubland and forest habitats. The ocelot is classified as a small cat, belonging to the genus Felis, but it is one of the larges cats in this genus. Like other small cats, it has a bare nose and long, sensitive whiskers; but unlike a domestic cat, it will run swiftly from danger rather than bolt up a tree.
ocelot inhabits both scrubland and forest. Forest-dwelling ocelots
have rich, golden-colored coats that blend in with the golden-brown hue
of the trees. Ocelots that live in scrubland have duller, grayish-colored
coasts that provide camouflage from predators.
It is not know for certain when and how often the ocelot breeds. It is thought that it breeds twice a year, in summer and in winter. When the breeding season arrives, the ocelot will venture out of its territory to find a mate. The female starts the courtship by calling loudly to attract a male. During mating, the male holds the female by the back of the neck.
Before the kittens are born two months later, the female makes a
well-hidden nest. This is sometimes lined with soft down plucked
from her underside.
FOOD AND HUNTING
Although its sense of smell is highly developed, the ocelot relies more
on its hearing and eyesight to detect prey, which it hunts at night.
The hearing of small cats like the ocelot is more acute than that of
larger cats, and they are better able to pinpoint the location of their
prey. Its whiskers are also important to the ocelot when
hunting. They a re so sensitive to touch that they help the cat
maneuver in tight spaces.
THE OCELOT'S COAT COMPARED WITH OTHER CATS'
Dark blotches on a rich golden or silver base. Perfect for its equatorial forest habitat. Each cat is suited to its environment: the leopard to the dry tropical forest, and the cheetah to the arid savanna. The ocelot is about a third the length of the Bengal tiger. By comparison, a domestic cat is much smaller then the other two.
Tail length: 10-16in
Mating: Once or twice a year, depending on location.
Gestation: 70 days.
Litter Size: 2-4 kittens.
Coat color: Varies from rich yellow to gray, depending on habitat. Underside speckled white. Ringed tail.
Lifespan: 17 years in captivity. Unknown in wild.
DID YOU KNOW
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