Nature

Rare Ocelot Spotted on Camera at South Texas Wildlife Refuge

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A rare ocelot was recently spotted on a game camera at the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge near Brownsville, Texas. The ocelot that was spotted was determined by Wildlife Refuge officials to be a previously-unknown female, which is encouraging to researchers. Ocelots are considered endangered in Texas as 95% of their original habitat has been cleared for development.

Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge

Ocelot game cam

Photo: Facebook/LagunaAtascosaNWR

In the United States, Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge is where you are most likely to see an ocelot, one of six cat species found in North America. Ocelots used to range from South Texas up into Arkansas and Louisiana but today there are only an estimated 50 ocelots that remain in the United States, including a breeding population found on the refuge.

These Cats Are Also Good Swimmers

Laguna Wildlife

Photo: Facebook/LagunaAtascosaNWR

According to the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, ocelots are different from most other cat species in that they can turn their ankle joints around which allows them to literally climb ‘down’ a tree. This important self-defense mechanism lets them escape from predators like mountain lions or bobcats, species of cats that cannot retract their claws (and must figure out how to get out of the tree they just climbed). Unlike most other cats, ocelots are also good swimmers.

South Texas Is the Ideal Habitat for These Cats

Ocelot
Photo: Flickr/Valerie

In South Texas, the ocelots’ diet consists mostly of rabbits, mice, rats, and birds. They are nocturnal and like to travel under the cover of darkness. In the daytime, they rest often in the branches or hollow of a tree. The South Texas brush is made up of thorny and dense plants. Though it looks uninviting and painful to humans, to ocelots the thick brush means protection from danger, shade from the heat, shelter for sleeping, dens for having kittens and a place to call home

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