Animal: Ocelot

Why this animal?
I chose the ocelot for many different reasons. I wanted an animal that I could inform lots of people on, not many people have heard of the ocelot. Another reason is that I was flipping through a book about animals and it caught my eye. So, I read about it and it seemed very intersting to me. Another reason is that it is small compared to other "big" cats, and I like smaller animals. That is why I chose this animal.

Food Web

Research location(Some web pages you may have to scroll down on to get the picture you are looking for)
I am in the Brazilian part of the Amazon Rainforest. This place is beautiful. The weather is much different from Iowa. It is warm here year round. The temperature right now is 89 degrees Fahrenheit, which is on the warm side, it hardly ever reaches 93 degrees Fahrenheit or ever drops below 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Then there is the humidity, we have an 81% humidity which make the 89 degree temperature feel a lot worse than it really is, but that is normal here, or so the locals say. They are very nice and helpful, especially when it rains, which is like always it seems like. They told me it rains on average 9 feet a year. Click here for the graph of rainfall and temperature. The weather here is so warm, humid and rainy.

To be able to understand my location better I wanted to explore and learn with my new collages and the locals. The first thing we came across was the Amazon River. From my past research I know that it was 4,080 miles long and can be anywhere from one mile to 35 miles wide. They did teach me a lot about the basin that empties in Belem into the Atlantic Ocean. That basin drains about 1,100 other tributaries. The basin is home to many animals including the following: river otters, freshwater river dolphins, turtles, piranha, manatees, electric eels, the giant air-breathing fish called piraracu, and the black caiman. Click in the colored words for pictures.

Then I went in to the rainforest for the first time. The first thing that caught my eye was the kapok tree. It was so tall and looks almost magical when I first saw it. Then I saw the most beautiful flower in the world, the bougainvillea. It is this pretty pink color with little white flower in the middle. Then I asked if any of these plants had been study in the medical field, they took me to the curare plant. They said that this plant is used as medicine. It is used to make D-tubocurarine. The final plant they pointed out to me was the strangler fig. As you can probably guess in the name they grow figs. They are a tall canopy tree and 70% of the animals in the rainforest eat the figs. Those were the four plants that they pointed out to me today I but I have more to learn and can’t wait to be able to learn more about them. Click on the colored word for a picture.

Then we got to the part that I had been waiting for the whole day, the animals. The rain forest is home to over 500 mammals, 175 lizards, 1/3 of the world’s birds, and over 30 million insects. The rainforest has four layers : the emergent, canopy, understory, and the forest floor. Each layer has its own ecosystem, plants, and animals. The emergent is the highest and the trees can be as tall as 200 feet tall. The next layer is the canopy. The canopy is the main layer of the rainforest. After that comes the understory. The understory gets only 2-5% of the sunlight and has little air movement. Finally there is the forest floor, it gets only 2% of the sunlight and almost no plants grow there because of the little sunlight.

Each layer has its own animals. The emergent is home to many animals. Some are the following: harpy eagle, Guiana crested eagle, lemon-throated barbet, black-faced spider monkey, Julia butterfly, Jamaican fruit bat, orange winged parrot, red handed howler monkey, emperor tamarian, channel-bill toucan, pied tamarin, and the browned eared wooly opossum. Click on the animals name for picture.

The next layer is the canopy. The canopy which is the main layer is the home to the following animals: sloth, ocelot, jaguars, leopards, morpho butterfly, kinkajou, bay-headed tanager, scarlet macaw, squirrel monkey, coati, iguana, tarantula, strawberry poisoned dart frog, south American tapir, and the Hahnel’s swallowtailed butterfly.

Then there is the understory layer. The understory is home to the following animals: black cayman, capybara, red-brocked deer, fishing bat, green anaconda, jacana, long-tailed hermit hummingbird, and South American river turtle.

The lowest layer is the forest floor. It is home to the following animals: giant anteater, beetles, frogs, lizards, snakes, anaconda and termites.

The main animal that I came here to study is the ocelot. The ocelot lives in the rainforest. There are many reasons that they live in the rainforest. Their fur is good for living in the rainforest. It is fine and has somewhat of a camouflage in it. Their fur also makes them a target of hunters for its unique patterns. They also have retractable claws so they can use them when hunting but not have them when they don’t need them. Their eyes have acute binocular vision and very good night vision, which is good because they hunt a night. They also have very good hearing. They are very good hunters both on the ground and in trees which is good because there are lots of trees in the rainforest.

Animal Adaptations Video:

Wildlife Research Technique:

Observation Journal:

Day one- This place is beautiful. I wish that I could be here all year round. Today we are going out into the rain forest with the locals. They are going to take us to the location of the ocelots that we will be observing. I have to tell you what happened this morning. I just woke up and got out of my tent. When I stepped out you will never guess what I saw, a scarlet macaw in a tree right above me. This was the first time that I have ever seen one in the wild it was so still and then it flew off it. When it flew it was like a moving rainbow. It was the most beautiful animal that I have ever seen fly. Back to what we saw in the rainforest, well, it was not much. In fact we did not see an ocelot at all. I have a feeling that it is because we had so many people there and were making noise. I can’t wait to go back tomorrow and see if I can see any. I think tomorrow I’m going to take my video camera and make a vlog.

Day two- I went out today and saw the ocelot for the first time in the wild. It was such a beautiful animal in the wild. It was very interesting to see them climb trees. They have very sharp claws but like most cats they are retractable. Having claws is an adaptation of most big cats living in the rainforest. At times it was hard to see the ocelot due to its camouflage. It can blend in with some tree branches easily. They also can be in the tall grass hiding and waiting for their prey. I saw a mother with her baby. She only had one cub. I named the mother Nala. I named the cub Selva which is from the word selvagem, which means wild. These were my first two ocelots to see. Then I saw my first full grown male. I gave him the name Oscar. He was the one that was climbing the tree and hiding from his prey. These three cats I hope to see tomorrow and I hope to be able to put trackers on them to be able to better understand what they do at night. I hope tomorrow to see a more ocelots.

Day three- Today I didn’t have much luck in the forest. It rained all day so we spend most of the day back at camp researching. We are planning to use gps collars to track the ocelot. This will be super exciting because then we can track them at all hours of the day and know where they go and what they do even when we can’t watch them. We hope to have them collared in a couple of days. This was a very short entry but I didn’t see any ocelots and spend most of the day researching, so I don’t have much to talk about.

Day four-I left camp today very early. As I was walking on the trail I kept my eyes out for any sign of the ocelot. I found a good stoppig place so I sat down and waited. Then I saw Oscar. It was not long before he was in hunting mode. He was crawling around on the ground and looking for something to eat. Then he saw a mouse and attacked. It was so quick the mouse didn’t even have time to attack. Then on he went. About an hour later I saw a new ocelot, a male, and I named him Eddie. He walked into the clearing and just looked right at me. He was so calm and I didn’t know what to do but stare speechless. We stared at each other for about 5 minutes. Then something caught his eye and he ran away. That was one of the coolest moments that I have had with an ocelot yet, but I’m sure that I have more to come. I can't wait for tomorrow.

Day five- We are planning to put to collars on the ocelot tomorrow, I can’t wait. It seems crazy that in the short time I’ve been here we are already making such a big difference in how we are tracking them. Today I went out one more time to the clearing, but the next time I go out I will be able to track the ocelot instead of waiting for them to come to me. Today I saw Oscar, Nala, Selva, and Eddie. The four of them are my first priority with the collar. The sooner we can get collars on them the better, we will be able to understand what they do when we are not around. Tomorrow will be a wonderful day and I can’t wait!

Day 6-Today we put gps tracking collars on. It took all day to put them on. We put them on Nala, Selva, Oscar, and Eddie. I have some awesome pictures that I took. Now we can track them and know what they do when we can’t watch them. It has been a long day and I need to get some sleep. Tomorrow will be the first day that I can find the ocelot and not have to wait for them to come to me.
Day seven- I was able to contact another ocelot research program, they are located in Texas. In Texas the ocelot population is decreasing rapidly. Even though I’m studying the ocelot in Brazil, I want to take some time and talk about the ocelot thst lives in Texas. There is very little difference between the ocelot in Brazil and the ocelot in Texas. The main reason that the ocelot population is decreasing is habitat change. Their forest home has been cut down for ranching, agriculture, and urban development. This left little forest cover for the ocelot. More than 95% of their habit has been lost. Then on top of deforestation, there was a period of time where their coat was wanted in the fashion industry and they were hunted like crazy for it. This all lead to the ocelot being critically endangered. A large threat that they are facing now is being hit on the road when looking for food, mating partners, and new land. The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service are continuing to research the ocelot at the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge to figure out need and monitor their health. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Serves are working to protect, restore and connect forests in Texas and make sure fresh water is available. To keep the ocelots safe from road traffic they have under road tunnels to keep them off the roads. They have also put in wildlife guzzlers, these are in place to help all animals in the area the need water. Here is a website to go to if you want to help the ocelot population
Day eight-I have been here for a week and it has been one of the best weeks of my life. I have learned more than any book could have taught me. I have learned the ocelot lives in the rainforest for many reasons. One is that the need to have dense forest to be able to have camouflage. The rainforest also provides the right source of food for the ocelot including mice, snakes, rabbits and other small amphibians and reptiles. The other thing that the ocelot needs is water. The rainforest has the Amazon River. The Amazon River is very large and has many smaller rivers the flow off over the whole Amazon Rain forest. I had a chance to witness all of these different characteristics of the ocelot, in one day. This is what happened. I was following Eddie around and saw him catch snake I took a closer look and saw that it was a snake that was only found in the rainforest. Then he went and took a drink from the Amazon River. Then Eddie went into hunting mode. He hid in a dense forest area, and then pounced. As the day got long he climbed in a high tree and fell asleep. That is another thing that the rainforest has, it has tall trees. As you can see the rainforest is a good home for the ocelot because it has all of the things that the ocelot needs.
Day nine- We have been able to learn a lot about relationships that the ocelot has in the wild. One of the relationships that it has is commensalism. The ocelot sleeps in trees. The tree provides a safe place to sleep for the ocelot. That is how the ocelot benefits but the tree doesn’t get anything but it also is not hurt. This is an example of a commensalism relationship.'
Day ten-We have put the tracking collars on the ocelot and have been able to learn more behavioral traits because we can find them easer. We know that they are attracted to the Calvin Klein cologne “Obsession”. They used to make it in the 80’s and 90’s but do not anymore. We put it on pads in the wild and they rub up against it leaving their DNA. Another thing that we have been able to see is that they tend to be by near the dense forest area and want to keep hidden. They want to keep hidden because of all of the danger they have been through. I think that they have learned from other ocelots that have been hunted and what to make sure it doesn’t happen to them or their young. When I was tracking Nala in the truck she walked right in front of the truck and was not afraid at all. But when it comes to humans they will run scared. It is crazy that we can learn all of this about them by just having tracking collars on them.
Day eleven - I have realized that I have not told you what the ocelot looks like in detail. So here you go. The ocelot has a leopard like pattern. The coat is yellowish, brownish and the spots are even kind of black colored. The spots are deformed circle shape with a brownish color in the inside with a blackish ring around the outside. The ocelot also had very large paws. They are huge. The ocelot is the smallest of “big” cats. They are just a bit larger then a domesticated cat.
Using the research

Fellow Researcher Profile
I have had the opportunity of a life time to be able to contact Nancy. Nancy has B.A. from Texas Tech University. She is not a biologist but she does have a communications degree. Her job is to help tell the story of the work that the biologists do. Nancy has always loved animals. She believes in some of the same things that I do. Nancy says that it is important to her that the animals have room to live, grow and prosper. We both want to help make sure that even within the expansions with cities, farms and urban areas that the animals still have room to live comfortably. I have always wanted to have a career that works with animals. In her career she has been able to do things with animals that not many people can do. She has been able to see the biologists release a male ocelot that they put a radio collar on. She has banded geese, helped rescue stranded sea turtles, and canoed the Rio Grande bird watching. Nancy has also hiked in remote areas looking for endangered plants, worked with private landowners who are trying to develop habitat on their property to benefit wildlife, and she has been able to meet amazing people who have done really important research on wildlife. Nancy says that she loves her job. She could be making more money somewhere else but she loves what she is doing and she is making a difference in what she is doing. I admire Nancy a lot. We are both passionate about animals and are trying our best to help them in the wild. My dream is to have to go back to college to find a different job because all of the animals have been saved and are out of harms way. I hope that some day Nancy and I will be able to meet and put all we have been doing together and make a huge difference in the lives of animals.
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Nick. "Behavior/Relationships - Ocelot." Ocelot. Web. 29 Jan. 2012.
Ocelot." DialSpace Welcome Page. 2000. Web. 13 Jan. 2012.
Kittel, J. 2011. "Leopardus pardalis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed February 26, 2012 at