Categories: Ocelot

What does the ocelot eat?

Ocelot hunting at night. Photo: PoC.

Ocelots mainly eat mammals such as opossums, rabbits, rats and mice. They also eat land crabs, insects, lizards, snakes, fish and birds. Although their feeding habits change with the seasons, due to the fluctuation in the population size of prey animals, most of their prey is both nocturnal and terrestrial (living on the ground). Also, most of the ocelot’s prey weighs less than 1 kg (kilogram) which equates to less than 10% of their bodyweight.

Ocelot. Photo in public domain.

Sometimes, rarely, there have been records of ocelots killing larger prey such as anteaters and peccaries. The peccary is a medium-sized pig-like mammal with hooves. They normally measure between about 3 foot and 4’3″ in length. There are also a few records of ocelots killing agoutis (a species of rodent native to Middle America, northern and central South America). In addition ocelots sometimes kill capybaras and armadillos and even deer. But these prey animals are not a major part of the ocelot’s diet.

Ocelot Facts For Kids

Ocelots need from 600 to 800 grams of food daily. For example, in Belize the major part of an ocelot’s diet consists of opossums. The opossum is a small to medium-sized marsupial found in the Americas. The ocelots of Belize also feed on armadillos and birds, ranking second and third in importance with regard to their diet.

In Peru, 92% of the ocelot’s diet consists of vertebrates weighing less than 1 kg. These are mostly rice rats and spiny rats. In Venezuelan iguanas and rodents are the ocelot’s primary prey in the seasonally flooded savannas. In the wet season they feed on land crabs as they become abundant. Once again, 94% of the author’s diet is prey weighing less than 1 kg.

The Cincinnati Zoo has produced two litters of ocelot kittens following artificial insemination with frozen semen
Provided/ Cincinnati Zoo

Ocelots normally eat their prey on the spot while records of captive ocelot show that they pluck the feathers from birds of any size before eating them.

In addition to the above (and more specifically) ocelots eat the following prey animals depending upon the area and the season: cane mouse, cotton rat, marsh rat, spiny pocket mouse, arboreal spiny rat, spiny tree rat, black rat, tree squirrel, lesser anteater, guinea pig, paca, achouchi, Tamarin monkey, squirrel monkey, porcupine and other reptiles. Like other wild cat species they also eat some plant material.

Ocelot coat 1957 – Photographer Gert Kruetschmann

Some more on the ocelot:

Trump’s Mexico-US wall would jeopardise ocelot conservation

The news surrounding Trump's great wall has subsided but its construction is still on the table and it is still ...
Read More

Rescued ocelot plays with dog companion

CLICK TO READ ABOUT THE OCELOT Please be patient while the video loads and becomes playable. It is worth the ...
Read More

Video of rare wild Arizona ocelot highlights catastrophic 1960s US fur market

Today in February 2019, online news media is chattering excitedly about a video from a camera trap of a wild ...
Read More

Facebook and eBay sell body parts of tigers, leopards and other endangered big cats illegally

Against a promise to stop facilitating the trade in body parts of tigers, leopards and other endangered big cats, eBay ...
Read More

When were ocelots discovered?

We don't know when ocelots were discovered because it happened at a time before science and record keeping was developed ...
Read More

Trump’s Wall Jeopardizes US Ocelot Conservation

There are only about 60 ocelots left in the USA. They were nearly all killed for their exotic coat. Remember ...
Read More
Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

Recent Posts

Dog strokes cat who reciprocates the affection (video)

Did my dog just pet my cat?? And did my cat just hug my dog??—…

6 hours ago

Are American Curl cats healthy?

Yes, American Curl cats are healthy because cats of this breed don't inherit genetic illnesses…

8 hours ago

Bidens will be bringing a cat to the White House (plus Major and Champ)

NEWS AND COMMENT: Pres-elect Joe Biden and his wife Dr Biden won't just be bringing…

9 hours ago

Why are Maine Coons so big?

Maine Coons are big because (1) people want them to be big and (2) the…

19 hours ago

Why are Maine Coon cats expensive?

I'm surprised the question has been asked because how do you know they're so expensive?…

20 hours ago

Do cats stay in heat after they get pregnant?

No, cats do not stay in heat after they get pregnant. The more technical word…

2 days ago