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Ocelot Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: April Gwen Ellsworth

April has a master's degree in psychology and has experience teaching special populations from preschoolers to adults.

Knock, knock. Who's there? Ocelot. Ocelot who? Ocelota food you have there, may I have some? If you were an ocelot, you probably wouldn't share your food, though, because ocelots like to live alone. Read on to find out more fun facts about the ocelot.

A Nocturnal Cat

The sun is going down, the stars are coming out, and it's time to look for some breakfast. Wait a minute, breakfast at night? Well, this is not so common for people, but nighttime is when the ocelot does its hunting, which makes it a nocturnal animal. And it doesn't even need night-vision goggles like we might, because its eyesight is especially suited to see well in the dark.

The Ocelot
ocelot

The ocelot is a cat, about twice the size of cats people usually keep as pets. It has a beautiful coat of light yellow to reddish-gray fur, with dark spots and stripes all over and a white underbelly. If you look carefully, you will see that some of these spots are shaped like doughnuts and some connect to form a chain pattern. These markings are so special that each ocelot has its own coat pattern, just like every person has a fingerprint that is different from all other people.

The ocelot also has dark stripes on its cheeks, rings around its tail, and a yellow spot on the back of each dark colored ear. Because its coat is so beautiful, ocelots used to be hunted a lot for their fur and even kept as pets. But this is no longer legal in most places and the ocelots are protected animals.

Each ocelot has its own unique coat pattern
coat

Eating Habits

So what do you like to eat at night for a midnight snack? Maybe not quite what an ocelot would choose, but if you were this cat, you would love a rabbit, iguana, or even an opossum. Ocelots also like to eat rodents, monkeys, birds, fish, crabs, and armadillos.

The ocelot is very active at night, and travels 1-5 miles looking for food, eating about every three hours during the night. The ocelot has sharp, pointed fangs just right for catching prey, and sharp back teeth for tearing meat. If it can't finish a meal, it covers it up and comes back the next night, like you might save some of your dinner in the fridge for later.

Sometimes ocelots will fall prey to, or get eaten by, larger cats, boa constrictors, anacondas, and harpy eagles. However, most animals that might be considered predators leave ocelots alone.

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