Saturday, July 08, 2006

Ocelots of Big Cat Rescue

The Ocelot ranges from the Southern U.S. down through South America. The ocelot will cover a range of up to 35 square miles and because much of that is rain forest the ocelot has the strongest smelling urine of all of the exotic cats. When the ocelot sprays to mark their territory it has to be strong enough to withstand the constant rains. Wildcats mark their territories to warn other cats to stay away because a fight will mean certain death and the best way to avoid each other is to respect these boundaries.

The ocelot is one of the best known South American cats because for many years she was the mainstay of the fur trade. At one time, more than 200,000 ocelots per year were killed for their coats. Today, with laws prohibiting hunting for the fur trade, there are no more Ocelot coats for sale.

Ocelots and Margay are the only cats who can descend a tree face first. They are perfectly designed for living most of their lives in the trees. Ocelots have a small litter size, one of the longest gestations and growth rates among the small felids, and a high infant mortality rate. Add this difficulty in sustaining its own population with deforestation and habitat destruction, and the survival of this beautiful little species becomes even more difficult.