Do you know the ocelot, a wildcat that lives in the Americas with its beautifully patterned fur?
While ocelots are easy to get used to humans and are popular as pets, their numbers have decreased in the wild, and there are fears that they will eventually become extinct.
Let’s take a peek at what features and secrets ocelots have in this article!



~ Basic information. ~

Mammalia-Carnivora-Felidae-Ocelot genus.

Length:55~100cm weight:11.3~15.8kg.

Ocelot is a species of wild feline.

The body is about twice the size of a domestic cat (pet cat), gray to yellowish brown in color, has oval black spots and stripes all over the body, and a tiger-like ring-shaped striped pattern on the tail.

Ocelots basically live alone, and males and females act together only during the breeding season. The breeding season of ocelots varies from region to region, with North America having a breeding season around autumn, while the tropics do not have a fixed breeding season.

The gestation period is about 70 days, and 1~4 babies are born in one birth, and only the female raises the child. Mother ocelot builds several nests in a safe place such as deep bushes to give birth to babies, and moves the nest every 2~3 weeks to protect the babies from natural enemies, ticks and fleas.




Ocelot’s Q&A.

Where does the ocelot get its name?

The name of the ocelot is said to be derived from the Mexican word “Tlalocelotl”, which means “wild tiger”.

It is not known for certain why ocelots were called wild tigers, but ocelots and tigers have some things in common.

The first thing they have in common is that they both have a white spot pattern behind the ear.

This white spot pattern is known to be found in many wild cats, and is an indicator to distinguish domestic cats from wild cats.

The second thing they have in common is that although they are both cats, they like water and are good swimmers. Ocelots swim and move in rivers or go into them to catch fish and crustaceans.


Why do ocelots live there?

Ocelots inhabit all kinds of environments, including rainforests, savannahs and swamps from southern North America to northern Argentina.

Many ocelots inhabit rainforests. The reason is that tropical rainforests have abundant water and plants, and many animals gather for this purpose.

In other words, the rainforest is a convenient place for the ocelots that prey on them. Another reason is that there are many trees that serve as resting places for ocelots.

By the way, ocelots are highly adaptable to the environment and can sometimes be seen near private houses and settlements.

What do ocelots eat?

Wild ocelots mainly feed on small animals such as rabbits, opossums and mice, but sometimes they also catch and eat deer and peccary cubs. They also eat reptiles, fish, and crustaceans such as snakes and iguanas.


Carnivores like ocelots have sharp canines used to hunt prey and pointed back teeth to cut through meat, but they don’t have the teeth needed to chew food.

Therefore, when eating, they eat the meat of their prey with their sharp teeth and swallow it whole without chewing it.


The hunt for ocelots is mainly based on ambushing and catching prey, and when it finds prey, it quietly approaches and waits patiently for the opportunity to hunt.

And when the opportunity comes, it jumps on the prey at once and catches it. Sometimes ocelots wait in the same place for more than an hour just to catch one prey.

Is it true that ocelots are good at climbing trees?

It’s true.

Like many felines, ocelots are good at climbing trees. Since ocelots are nocturnal animals, they are often said to rest on trees during the day.

However, ocelots do not always rest on trees, but also in tree hollows or deep bushes if there is shade.

In the past, it was thought that hunting was also carried out on trees, but now it is clear that they hunt mainly on the ground.


Is it true that ocelots are easy to get used to people?

Ocelots are very easy to become people, and if you keep them from a young age, they will become familiar with people like pet cats.

A female ocelot named “Melody” that was bred at Zooracia Yokohama Zoo in Japan was also used to people, and when she wanted to be bothered or her body was itchy, she called the keeper with a sweet voice.


Is it true that ocelots are surprisingly afraid of squealing?

It’s true.

Ocelots are the most popular wildcats as pets because they look cute and are easy to get used to.

However, the bark is not a high voice like a pet cat, but a very low voice that says “mew” or a lion or tiger-like voice that growls “roar”.

If you actually see an ocelot chirping, you may be surprised by the gap between appearance and voice.


Can ocelots be kept as pets?

When breeding rare animals at home, it is necessary to follow the established laws in some countries. This time, we will introduce whether it is possible to keep an ocelot at home in Japan.

In fact, ocelots are designated as “specified animals” that may endanger human life and property under Japan law.

Currently, it is completely prohibited to keep specific animals for pets, so ocelots cannot be kept as pets in Japan Japan.

In addition, ocelots are caught to get beautiful fur and to keep them as pets, so their population is declining, and there is a concern that they will become extinct if this situation continues.

Therefore, ocelots are currently classified as “Annex I” of the Washington Convention, and import and export for commercial purposes are prohibited.


In fact, in the case of Japan, the last ocelot in Japan that was kept at Yokohama Zoo Zoorasia died in 2020, and as of 2021, there is not a single ocelot in the zoo in Japan.

Given that ocelots are not available even in zoos that serve animal display and educational purposes, it is considered nearly impossible for the public to obtain ocelots for keeping as pets in Japan.

※On the washington convention.

The official name is the “Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora”, which refers to the agreement between countries when exporting or importing products made from animals or parts or all of animals that are feared to be extinct.

It is stipulated that animals listed in Annex I should not be imported or exported in order to make money, neither the animals themselves nor their body parts.

What is the lifespan of an ocelot?

It is said that the lifespan of an ocelot is about 15~20 years in captivity.

By the way, in Japan, a female ocelot named “Melody” was bred at a facility called Yokohama Zoo Zoorasia. Melody exceeded the average life expectancy in captivity and lived to be 24 years old.

Photo by Philip Marsh on Unsplash

What enemies does the ocelot have?

The natural enemy of the ocelot is the jaguar, which is the same feline, and sometimes the ocelot is eaten by the jaguar.


But the biggest enemy of the ocelot is us humans.

In the old days, we caught a lot of ocelots to take beautiful fur and to keep as pets.

It is said that at least 12 pieces of pelt were required to make one ocelot coat, and there is a record that more than 130,000 pieces of ocelot fur were imported to the United States in 1969.

Today, ocelots are listed as an endangered species and protected by many countries.

Unfortunately, poaching is still constant, and habitat development is progressing, and the number of places where ocelots can live and animals that can be preyed on is steadily decreasing.

When you see a cute and beautiful wild animal like an ocelot, you may want to keep it.

However, keep in mind that when an individual keeps a wild animal, in many cases the individual cannot leave offspring, which indirectly deprives the animal of its future.

Domestic cats are domesticated animals that have evolved to live with humans over a long history.

Currently, there are breeds that draw wild wildcat blood, such as “bengal”, so if you want to keep a wildcat, you should try such a breed.

Considering all aspects such as ease of keeping and getting used to it, wouldn’t it be happier to raise animals that have walked history together next to humans as pets, rather than wild animals that should originally live in nature?




今泉 忠明(2004年)『野生ネコの百科』データハウス

東京ズーネット「どうぶつ図鑑 オセロット」

ナショナルジオグラフィック「動物大図鑑 オセロット」

(公財)横浜市緑の協会 よこはま動物園「オセロットの「メロディ」が死亡しました」


環境省「特定外来生物・特定(危険)動物へのマイクロチップ埋込み技術マニュアル 8中型ネコ類〈ネコ科〉」