Animals of Costa Rica

Ocelot

Category: Mammals

Ocelots can grow up to 16kg in weight, with males growing considerably larger than females. They have golden – reddish fur with black ‘rosettes’ all over their back and sides. Sometimes they can form long continuous, horizontal chains across their body. They have a distinctive white spot on the back of each ear. Their tails are a lot shorter than other cats within the Leopardus family which makes them relatively easy to distinguish.

Taxonomy (Leopardus pardalis)
Spanish Name Manigordo
Conservation Status LEAST CONCERN (DECREASING)
Lifespan Between 7-10 years old in the wild, but the oldest recorded ocelot in captivity lived to 21 years old.
Distribution Can be found in parts of Mexico, extending all the way down to northern parts of Argentina.
Behavior Strictly nocturnal or crepuscular, and a solitary species. They have large home ranges, with males and females often overlapping into each other’s territories. Although you will mostly find them on the ground, they are also excellent climbers and swimmers and they often travel for up to 12 hours a day searching for food and roaming their territories. During the day, they sleep in hollow trees, thick vegetation or sometimes in trees on branches.
Weight Up to 16kg
Diet Small and medium mammals such as rats, mice, opossums and armadillos, reptiles, and fish.
Reproduction Males become sexually mature at around 15 months of age, and females between 18 and 22 months. They can breed all year round in the tropics, and young become fully independent form their mother at around a year old when they must find their own territories.
Threats Their coat is heavily trafficked and was once sold for as much as $40,000 USD.  Now, it is illegal to trade their pelts however you can still often find them on the black markets. They are also affected by habitat disturbance and deforestation.
At Alturas We currently provide refuge for three ocelots. Two were removed from their den by a gardener, and when we tried to reunite them with their mother by placing them back in their den, their mother did not return. The third is Cristiano who’s story was outlined in our main newsletter.