Gabriela is a female Ocelot (Felis pardalis), born on April 6, 2002. Gabriela, nicknamed Gabby for her talkative nature, was given to the Foundation as a gift for some of the work that we do with nutrition. She’s a joy, and we’re happy to have her!
The ocelot’s fur gives this medium-sized cat a very distinctive appearance, with its dark brown irregular shaped spots and stripes, edged with black on a yellow/tawny background. No two patterns are alike, and this can be used to identify individuals like a fingerprint on humans. The underlying coloration varies with its habitat, with the base fur color being a rich yellow/cream in more arid areas to a darker yellow/brown in forested habitats. The slender body of the ocelot can measure up to three and a half feet and weighs in at twice that of a large domestic cat.
The ocelot’s hunting technique is varied and is carried out mostly at night. Its prey includes small deer, rabbits, rodents, reptiles and if available, fish. The ocelot is an excellent swimmer and enjoys water, which is unusual for felines. Ocelots are also excellent climbers and will sleep in the branches of trees. Ocelots, margays, and clouded leopards are the only three cats that can climb down a tree head first because they are double-jointed on the front and back ankles. Ocelots are found in tropical rainforests, mountain forests, and all types of thick bush, as well as marshy areas and riverbanks.
The ocelot is a solitary animal, with male territories generally larger than female territories. Males and females come together only to mate, with the mating season being all year for tropical climates and the end of summer for more temperate climates. Females generally have one litter every other year and give birth to one to two kittens. These kittens are born blind and covered in thick, dark fur, but after a month their eyes open and their fur color starts to show. After one year they are ready to leave their mother to establish their own territory.
Today the ocelot can be found in parts of Mexico, Central America and South America as far as Argentina. The estimated population of the ocelot in Texas is less than 100. The ocelot population was decimated by the fur trade during the 1970s and 1980s, with as many as 200,000 killed annually. The implementation of strict controls has decreased the number killed but the population today is still in decline due to habitat destruction and poaching.
33 – 39 inches long, tail is 11 – 16 inches long
19 – 28 lbs
1 – 2 kittens
7 – 10 years in the wild, up to 20 years in captivity