Meet the Animals » Cats and Wolfdogs » Thatch
Ocelot Leopardus paradalis – Thatch
Thatch cam to the Exotic Pet Refuge from a zoo where she lived and also worked in the ‘pet's corner’ as an experience animal. This life did not suit Thatch therefore she needed a home and that is when we stepped in. Thatch had been hand reared and therefore had never had contact with any other ocelots and so she had become very imprinted on her trainers at the zoo. Since being at the refuge Thatch has come on in leaps and bounds, she was very nervous at first and only tolerated female members of staff, although she is still very shy amongst visitors and most male volunteers she is a very well behaved and is at her most playful in the evenings.
Ocelots are tropical rainforest dwellers they are also found in thorn forest, mangrove swamps and savannas. It is distributed mainly over south and central America and Mexico. Due to habitat destruction and hunting for the pelt, which resembles that of a clouded leopard or jaguar it led to a rapid decline in their numbers. Up until 1992 it was classified as a vulnerable endangered species, however it is now rated as least concern. They can live for up to 20 years in captivity.
They are a nocturnal species spending the day asleep in the tree canopy and at night they spend their time hunting through the rainforest on small mammals, reptiles and birds. The latter is a specialist hunting skill for these cats due to the dense undergrowth in the forests. It is very territorial and will fight fiercely, sometimes to the death in territorial disputes. The young remain with their mother for up to 2 years and then disperse to establish their own territory.
Did you know that the Moche people of ancient Peru worshipped animals and often depicted the ocelot in their art. The artist Salvador Dali also frequently travelled with his pet ocelot called Babou.