Ocelot Facts for Kids

by eslevy17

Want to learn fun and interesting facts about ocelots for kids? Learn all about ocelots, from habits to habitats to all sorts of other fun facts about this adorable jungle cat.

Ocelots are a fascinating creature, with the beautiful spotted fur coat of large ferocious wild felines, but with the adorable baby eyes of a house cat. Roaming through the jungles of South America, it has captured the imagination of kids and adults all over the world, managing to be exotic and cuddly at the same time.

So read on for all sorts of fun and interesting facts about ocelots for kids, that adults will probably enjoy quite a bit too!

Fun Ocelot Facts for Kids

Fun and interesting facts about ocelots for kids...and adults too!

Imagine if you could take the exotic jungle camouflage of a ferocious hunter like a jaguar, and combine it with the soft, cuddly cuteness of an adorable house cat. Got it? That's an ocelot.

It's no surprise the ocelot manages to be the favorite animal of so many. They're just so darn cute.

Even though they spend their time hunting in the jungle like any other wild cat, they can't help but look like a giant adorable kitten, with a body and facial features more like an ordinary cat than a ferocious wild animal, earning them the nickname "dwarf leopard."


They're still pretty big though, with a body about 2 to 3 feet long (.7 to 1 meter), and weighing about 18 to 40 pounds (8 to 18 kg), making them about two to three times as big as a regular cat.

Where do Ocelots Live?

Ocelot habitat and range facts

Ocelots are found in many countries throughout South and Central America, and occasionally in the United States, near the Mexican border.

They love to live in thick forests, like tropical rainforest and mangrove swamps, where their spotted fur coat helps them blend in with the environment when they're out hunting, though they also hunt in emptier areas at night.

Ocelot range
Ocelot range

Like most cats, ocelots are good climbers, and they spend a lot of time up in the trees, to relax, hunt, or find a hollow tree to build a den when it's time to have some kittens.

What do Ocelots Eat?

Ocelot diet and hunting facts

Because ocelots more closely resemble small cats rather than big ones, their hunting habits have quite a bit in common with smaller felines, meaning they prefer to go after smaller prey, like rodents, birds, lizards, turtles, fish, and other creatures smaller than itself.

Ocelots don't have super strong bodies or jaws like other large cats, like the jaguar, so ocelots prefer to go after small prey, avoiding dangerous jungle animals that could injure it severely.

Cincinnati Zoo
Cincinnati Zoo
Greg Hume

Like many cats, ocelots are mostly nocturnal, preferring to hunt at night, when their night vision, camouflage, excellent sense of smell, and great hunting skills give it an advantage.

Ocelots at the Woodland Park Zoo

Video of young ocelots exploring their home

Life as an Ocelot

Ocelots from kitten to adult

Ocelots give birth to very few kittens at a time. Usually just one! This means its mother has to take extra special care to make sure it knows how to take care of itself after it goes off to find its own territory.

When an ocelot is born, it can't even open its eyes, and stays that way for 2 weeks. It stays in the den for about 3 months, when it's old enough to tag along on her hunting adventures. When it's about 2 years old, it will go off to find its own home, living alone, until it's time to find another ocelot to breed with.

Ocelots can live a pretty long time; up to 20 years in captivity, and a little less in the wild.

Ocelots are very territorial, getting into fights with other ocelots, unlike some other cats that prefer to walk away instead of getting into a fight.

Ocelot Books for Kids

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Ocelots (Cats of the Wild)
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Ocelot (Welcome Books: Animals of the World)
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Are Ocelots Endangered?

Population facts and conservation efforts

Ready for some good news? Ocelots are not considered an endangered species.

While once killed for their fur, and facing rapid population loss due to loss of habitat, ocelots are now rated "least concern," meaning they are not facing immediate threat of extinction, and populations are fairly healthy.

Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, Washington
Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle, Washington

This doesn't mean it's time to stop worrying, though.

Human expansion continues all the time, with new cities, roads, farms, and other structures always pushing into wild territory, putting pressure on animal populations by reducing their habitat and challenging their ability to find food. Maintaining populations of wild animals is hard work, especially when humans need food and homes, too.

So, what makes the ocelot safer than other wild cats?

Well, smaller animals have a much easier time surviving, since they rarely have trouble finding a mouse or a bird to eat. Larger predators have much larger dietary needs, meaning they need to find large animals on a regular basis, and those animals need plenty of food to eat, too. This means large predators need much larger territories than smaller animals.

Bojnice Zoo, Slovakia
Bojnice Zoo, Slovakia
Lady Rowena

Plus, South America is still pretty underdeveloped in some places. Although human expansion is always going to cause challenges, there are plenty of large forests where ocelots can live in peace and quiet, and keep going about their happy lives without interruption. This is good news for ocelots, but there's still plenty of work to do to make sure it stays this way, and it's hard to measure their population when they live in regions where it's so easy to hide.

Groups like the World Wildlife Fund work on conservation efforts all over the world to save all sorts of beautiful animals, so that future generations can enjoy them too.

Adorable Ocelot Kittens!!!

Cute ocelot cub video

Ocelot Posters and Art Prints

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Famous Ocelots

Ocelots as exotic pets

Ocelots, like many other wild cats, have been pets to some pretty famous people throughout history, most famously the artist Salvador Dalí. This abstract, surrealist painter had a pet ocelot named Babou, who came along with him on many trips.

Keeping such a pet is hard work, though even though they look like house cats, it's not a good idea to get one unless you really know how to take care of one!

Salvador Dalí and Babou the Ocelot
Salvador Dalí and Babou the Ocelot
Roger Higgins

Since ocelots are popular zoo animals, kids and adults can see them in person, so if you've enjoyed learning all sorts of fun and interesting facts about ocelots for kids (and adults, too), a trip to the zoo is always a good time.

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Updated: 05/10/2012, eslevy17
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Joe on 12/03/2015

Ocelots are my favorite animal and i dont know much about them.So I will learn about them

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