The ocelot's spotted coat helps it blend into the forest.
The ocelot's spotted coat helps it blend into the forest.
Photograph by Elitravo, Dreamstime

Ocelot: Can You Spot It?

The ocelot quietly stalks through the grass in a Mexican forest. It crouches, then—bam!—pounces on an unsuspecting mouse. Dinner is served.

The rodent probably never saw this wild cat coming. Its unique spotted coat helps it blend into the forest while it hunts for prey. The ocelot's camouflage also helps protect it as it sleeps during the day on tree branches or in bushes. Although the cat is twice the size of an average house cat, ocelots are prey for harpy eagles, pumas, jaguars, and anacondas.


Ocelots are nocturnal, meaning they're most active at night. They use their sharp vision and hearing to hunt rabbits, rodents, iguanas, fish, frogs, monkeys, and birds. When they're ready to eat, the wild cats don’t chew their food—instead they use their teeth to tear meat into pieces and then swallow it whole. Like a domestic cat, an ocelot's raspy tongue can clean a bone of every last tasty morsel.


An ocelot family usually includes a mom and one or two young. The kittens are born with their spots but have gray coats and blue eyes that turn golden brown when they're about three months old. Ocelots live with their mom for about a year and then leave to find their own territory.

There’s a whole lot to love about ocelots!