Aztec God


Diet and Hunting:
Like many wild cats ocelots are carnivores. They capture an average of one prey item for about every three hours of travel. Ocelots prey mainly on small rodents but are also known to eat birds, snakes, iguanas and other lizards, baby peccaries, young deer, rabbits, and even fish and crabs. They may look for potential food while strolling about or may sit and wait for prey to appear. If the carcass can't be eaten in one feeding, the cat covers it and returns the next night to finish its meal. Ocelots spend most of their time on the ground but are strong swimmers and good climbers and jumpers. They may take prey up into a high place to eat it in peace.
Reproduction and Family Life
The gestation period of this species is 79 to 85 days. They have a litter of about one to three kittens. A family is comprised of an adult female and her young. Once the female and male have mated, they do not stay together. The pregnant female gives birth in a hollow tree, rocky bluff, cave, or secluded thicket. Since the mother protects her young by herself, she moves them to up to five different dens depending on her sense of security in each place. The kittens are born fully marked with spots, but their coat is gray, their lower limbs are dark, and their eyes are blue. Their eyes are closed when they are born and stay that way until 14 days after birth. The kittens usually begin to walk around three weeks old. The mother usually teaches the young how to hunt around four to six weeks of age. However, the kitten is not able to eat solid food until about eight weeks but will continue to nurse for about six months. Around three months of age, the young's coat changes from gray to brown. At eight months of age the kitten's adult teeth are fully grown, and it can hunt on its own. The young will remain in the mother's home range for up to two years.
Behavior and Communication
Ocelots are nocturnal creatures that rest in trees or dense brush during the day. As extremely active animals at dawn and dusk, they are particularly secretive, and they travel from one to five miles per night, though the males usually travel further than females. Sometimes they are active in daytime if the weather is rainy or cloudy. The usual communication between ocelots is through the use of body language, scent marking, and vocalizations. An arched back, stiff legs, and tail held straight down is meant to be a threatening posture. Much like lions an ocelot will "chuckle" when excited, and may "mutter" or yowl during courtship. So that a male ocelot may easily find a mate, his territory is usually marked to overlap the territory of several females. The males are extremely territorial and are not kind or tolerant of the neighboring males. They mark their territory by clawing logs, spraying vegetation with their urine, and leaving feces prominently on trails.
The Aztecs and other Native Americans worshipped the ocelot for its beauty and hunting skill. The name ocelot actually comes from the Mexican Aztec word "tlalocelot" meaning "tiger of the field." The claws and skin of the animal were often used as pieces in ceremonial garb. What we know today as the constellation called the Big Dipper (or Great Bear) was known by the early Mexicans as Tezcatlipoca, a great god, who took the form of the ocelot. Tezcatlipoca transformed himself into the sun so that he could bring light to the world for the first time. The other gods were jealous of his beauty and power. Out of jealousy the other gods created giants, who lived wildly and without respect for the land and the gift of the sun, to destroy Tezcatlipoca. One of the jealous gods was Quetzalcoatl who was known to be benevolent. However, Quetzalcoatl struck down Tezcatlipoca from the sky and cast him into the waters. When he was knocked down from the sky, Tezcatlipoca decided to take on another form in order to take revenge on the gods that took him from the sky. Therefore Tezcatlipoca assumed the form of the ocelot. That night the ocelot devoured the giants meant to destroy him. Before this had happened humans had also lived wild and without reason just as the giants had, but with the fall of Tezcatlipoca from the sky the humans grew worried and panicked. However, now they could live the way Quetzalcoatl showed them. They could live as a community with respect for one another, and each serve a purpose.
Ocelots are popular in captivity because of their interesting fur patterns. They are animals that are intriguing to look at and they are also a small animal that is more easily kept in captivity. Their size and coat have also made them a desirable pet to some people. Since they are small animals, and their diet consists of rodents and other small animals people believe they are easy to care for. However, many people don't realize that although small ocelots are wild animals that are strong, and therefore could be dangerous to their owners.