Ocelots are members of the cat family. Their beautiful fur is a creamy color covered with reddish-brown spots outline in black. They have two stripes extending from the inside corner of their eyes and over the back of their head. Ocelots are about 30 - 41 inches long and weigh 15 - 30 pounds.
Ocelots are carnivores whose diet consists primarily of rabbits, small rodents, and birds. They hunt at night and spend the day resting in brush so thick that the only way a person can move through it is by crawling. Ocelots live within an area (home range) of about 1 to 4 square miles. Females prepare a den for their kittens in thick brush. Mothers leave at night to hunt, but spend each day with their kittens at the den. The kittens begin hunting with their mother when they are about 3 months old. They stay with her until they are about a year old. Ocelots can live 20 years in captivity.
Ocelots are endangered because their habitat (the thick brush where they live) has been cleared for farming and growth of cities. Only about 30 to 35 Ocelots live in the shrublands remaining at or near the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge near Brownsville, Texas. In 1995 it was estimated that 80 to 120 individuals lived in Texas.
Dense, thorny, low brush such as spiny hackberry, lotebush, and blackbrush offer the Ocelot the best habitat.
Historical records indicate that the Ocelot once occurred throughout south Texas, the southern Edwards Plateau, and along the Coastal Plain. Today, its range is the south Texas brush country and lower Rio Grande valley.