The ocelot is usually most active at night, spending the day resting in a tree, thick vegetation, or under a fallen tree or brush pile, although daytime activity does also occur (2) (3) (4) (7) (8). Several individuals may use the same rest site, although not at the same time (3). The ocelot is a strong swimmer and also an agile climber, although most hunting and travelling takes place on the ground (2) (3) (7) (8). The diet includes a variety of small mammals, birds and reptiles (including iguanas, tortoises and snakes), as well as fish and also land crabs. Larger prey, such as agoutis, armadillos, monkeys, peccaries and deer are also an important part of the ocelot diet (2) (3) (4) (7) (8) (10), and the ocelot may take advantage of seasonal prey abundances, such as spawning fish (3) (4).
Although essentially solitary (7), the ocelot probably makes frequent contact with other individuals (2) (3), and males typically defend a territory encompassing those of two or three breeding females (3) (7). Breeding is likely to take place year-round in the tropics, but may be more seasonal elsewhere, with births reported to occur in autumn and winter in Mexico, USA, Argentina and Paraguay. The female usually gives birth to a single young, although rarely up to three or four (average of 1.4) (6), with the gestation period lasting around 70 to 85 days (2) (3) (4) (7). The young is born in the shelter of a den, such as in a hollow tree, cave or thicket, and the female may move it between a number of dens until it is old enough to travel with her, at about 4 to 6 weeks (3) (7). The young ocelot is born with a fully marked but rather grey coat (3) (8), and has one of the slowest growth rates of all small cats (7). The eyes are opened at around 14 to 18 days, suckling may last for 3 to 9 months, and maturity is reached at around 18 to 24 months. The female ocelot is likely to give birth only once every two years. Lifespan may be over 10 years in the wild, and up to 21 years in captivity (2) (3) (4) (7).