The Story Of Wild Animals:
Story Of The Squirrel
Story Of The Otter
Story Of The Civet
Story Of The Crocodile
Story Of The Sloth
Story Of The Tortoise
Story Of The Ocelot
Story Of The Wolf
Story Of The Badger
Story Of The Hyena
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Story Of The Ocelot
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
I once spent a very interesting quarter of an hour in South America watching an ocelot catch a monkey. The beautiful cat had taken a position in a large tree much frequented by monkeys. It stretched out at full length upon a big limb and remained perfectly motionless. To all appearances it was dead. Pretty soon the monkeys saw it and immediately began to chatter in a high state of excitement. They seemed undecided whether to run away or to make some sort of an attack upon the apparently lifeless object stretched upon, the limb. It was not long, however, before their natural curiosity overcame their fears. They drew nearer, occasionally chattering loudly and then remaining silent for a few moments while they watched the ocelot intently.
The cunning little animal gave no sign of life. The monkeys came still nearer, their curiosity increasing with every step. They were now within a couple of feet of the ocelot, but that animal, with a splendid command of its nerves, never moved a muscle. The monkeys shouted and scolded, but their cries failed to arouse the shamming ocelot. Finally one monkey, more venturesome than its fellows, cautiously stretched out a paw and touched the ocelot on its long tail. Not a movement, not a sound. Assuredly this creature was dead. Again and again the monkey repeated the performance without awakening any sign of life in the ocelot.
Then, as if having satisfied itself that the animal was really dead, the monkey ran along the limb and squatted close by the ocelot's head. "Squeak !"
It was the death yell of the curious monkey. As if it were made of springs, the ocelot leaped to its feet, and with the movement seized the monkey with its teeth and claws.
The other monkeys ran chattering and screaming through the forest, while the ocelot proceeded leisurely to make its supper of the monkey. Like the jaguar, it first sucks the blood of the animal it kills, and if this does not satisfy its hunger, it feasts rather slowly and daintily on the carcass.
The ocelot devours small quadrupeds of all kinds as well as eggs.
It runs like the fox and wildcat when pursued by hunters and hounds, and often resorts to the fox-like trick of doubling on its track in order to baffle its pursuers.
In South America I saw many of these beautifully-marked animals. Its range is the same as the jaguar's, and it partakes of the habits of that animal, although the ocelot is a much smaller member of the cat family.
It is a very voracious animal, but at the same time timid. It rarely attacks men. It is afraid of dogs, and when pursued it makes off to the woods and climbs a tree. There it remains, and even takes up its abode to sleep and look out for game and cattle, upon which it darts as soon as they are within range. It prefers the blood to the flesh, and, in consequence, destroys a vast number of animals, for instead of devouring them, it only quenches its thirst by sucking their blood.
Notwithstanding its cowardice, the ocelot is a very savage animal. A pair of young ones in captivity at the age of three months were sufficiently strong and cruel to kill and devour a dog who had been given them as a nurse. The male always keeps the female in wonderful subjection, so much so, that she is afraid even to attempt to eat until he is completely satisfied.
In the matter of markings, the ocelot is admitted to be the most beautiful member of the cat family. The ground-color of the ocelot may be tawny yellow or reddish-gray. It is always marked with black spots, which are in chain-like streaks and blotches. The head and limbs bear small spots, and there are two black stripes over each cheek, and one or two black bands around each fore-leg. The tail is ringed, and parts of the trunk and limbs are whitish.
There is, however, a well-marked variety of a gray color, in which the flanks may be whitish; while there is a second form characterized by its less brilliant color. Still more strikingly different is the third form, characterized by its brilliant coloration. The pupil of the eye, when contracted, forms an exceedingly narrow vertical slit. Not only does the ocelot vary in coloration, but it also displays considerable difference in point of size. Thus the total length of the animal may vary from four feet to three feet one inch, and that of the tail from fifteen to eleven inches.
The ocelot is an exclusively forest animal, and is an expert climber, capturing most of its prey, which consists of small animals and birds, in the trees. In disposition it is fierce and savage in the wild state.