This shot of an ocelot was taken at the Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Twice the size of the average housecat, the ocelot is a sleek animal with a gorgeous dappled coat. These largely nocturnal cats use keen sight and hearing to hunt rabbits, rodents, iguanas, fish, and frogs. They also take to the trees and stalk monkeys or birds. Unlike many cats, they do not avoid water and can swim well.
Many ocelots live under the leafy canopies of South American rain forests, but they also inhabit brushlands and can be found as far north as Texas. These cats can adapt to human habitats and are sometimes found in the vicinity of villages or other settlements.
Ocelots’ fine fur has made them the target of countless hunters, and in many areas they are quite rare, including Texas, where they are endangered. Ocelots are protected in the United States and most other countries where they live.