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Ocelot Diet: What Do Ocelots Eat? (List of Prey Animals)

Ocelots are carnivores meaning they eat meat. They are predators, hunting small to medium-sized animals such as small mammals, rodents, frogs, birds, and more.

Ocelots are skillful predators. They prey upon smaller animals than them that can be found in and around their habitat. 

Their sharp incisor teeth and claws are perfect tools to make short work of their prey. They are also persistent hunters, as they not only hunt on the ground but in water and canopies as well.

In this article, we cover everything you need to know about an ocelot’s diet and find answers to how, when, and what ocelots eat.

What Do Ocelots Eat?

Ocelots exclusively eat meat. They hunt animals smaller than themselves but sometimes hunt for bigger prey. They frequently prey on rodents, amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, fishes, birds, and sometimes marsupials and insects.

Based on where they live, ocelots eat different species, but the types of animals they hunt are the same.[1]

Most of the time, ocelots eat the following types of animals:

  • Rodents
  • Reptiles
  • Amphibians
  • Fishes
  • Small Mammals
  • Marsupials
  • Birds
  • Insects



Ocelots mostly prey on rodents, as there are many in every area they inhabit. Their size and nutritional values are perfectly suited for the ocelot’s appetite.

Rodents included in ocelots’ diet:

  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Squirrels
  • Young capybaras


small lizard

Reptiles are also ideal prey for ocelots. They are everywhere in rainforests, and the grasslands aren’t lacking in reptiles either.

Examples of reptiles ocelots eat:

  • Iguanas
  • Snakes
  • Lizards


small frog on river

Ocelots will not spare amphibians either when they are hungry. These creatures aren’t saved by the water, as ocelots are skilled hunters in water as well.

Examples of amphibians ocelots eat:

  • Frogs
  • Mexican burrowing caecilian
  • Salamander


Discus Fish

Ocelots eat fish if they can’t find any other prey. This is especially true in habitats abundant with fish.

Examples of fish ocelots eat:

  • Angelfish
  • Discus
  • Neon tetra

Small mammals

young rabbit on the grass

There are a few small mammals that ocelots eat. A lot of mammals are bigger than the ocelot itself, so they will hunt for babies.

Examples of small mammals ocelots eat:

  • Rabbits
  • Baby Peccories
  • Small deer
  • Armadillos
  • Monkeys
  • Sloths



The marsupials that ocelots generally encounter are smaller than mammals. This makes them a more promising target for ocelots.

Examples of marsupials ocelots eat:

  • Opossums
  • Shrew Opossums


ducks eating on water

Birds are often hunted by ocelots when they carelessly land on the ground or when an ocelot climbs a tree to catch them. They rarely prey upon them, but it’s not unheard of for ocelots to eat birds.

Examples of birds ocelots eat:

  • Toucans
  • Macaws
  • Ducks
  • Geese



If all else fails, ocelots hunt insects for a quick bite. Although they are not as nutritional as other prey, ocelots eat insects from time to time.

Examples of insects ocelots eat:

  • Beetles
  • Moths
  • Cockroaches

Ocelot’s Diet Based on Region

Ocelots’ diet varies depending on the region they inhabit. They eat a variety of meat, but they can only hunt the prey animals that live in their habitat.

Ocelots either live in rainforests or brushlands. These habitats offer different selections of prey, so ocelots’ diet varies accordingly.[2]

Ocelot’s habitatPrey
RainforestsMonkeys, Sloths, Marsupials, Baby peccaries, Toucans, Amphibians, Rodents, Opossum, and Fishes.
BrushlandsRabbits, Small Lizards, Mice, Rats, Snakes, Young Deer, and Birds.

What Do Ocelots Eat in the Wild?

In the wild, ocelots hunt and eat smaller animals. Animals like mice, rats, lizards, snakes, frogs, rabbits, opossums, and fishes are all included in a wild ocelot’s diet.

Ocelots are smart hunters. They hunt for anything they can easily catch. They also hide the carcasses for later consumption.[3]

They live in different habitats, but generally speaking, ocelots hunt for anything smaller than them in the wild.

Ocelots in the wild eat:

  • Rodents
  • Reptiles
  • Amphibians
  • Small mammals
  • Marsupials
  • Fishes
What Do Ocelots Eat in the Wild

What Do Ocelots Eat In Captivity?

Ocelots in captivity are fed the same animals as they would hunt in the wild. This includes rodents, reptiles, fishes and crustaceans, medium-sized mammals, and birds.

In addition to dead animals, ocelots in captivity are also fed supplements, such as taurine and calcium.

According to the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance Library, an optimal diet for an ocelot consists of small rodents, reptiles, fish, mammals, and birds.[4]

Type of foodQuantity in %
Small rodents65
Reptiles, mostly iguanas18
Crustaceans and fish7
Medium-sized mammals6

How Much Do Ocelots Eat?

Adult ocelots eat about 1.2 to 1.9 lbs (0.56 to 84 kg) of meat daily. This is less than 10% of their body weight. Baby ocelots need less food.

An ocelot’s food intake varies depending on their habitat and age. 

Their daily food consumption either includes one bigger prey or several smaller ones. They typically eat every few hours to satisfy their appetite.

How Much Do Ocelots Eat
Image Source

How Much Do Ocelots Eat in the Wild?

In the wild, an adult ocelot eats about 1.2 to 1.9 lbs(0.56 to 0.84 kg) of flesh daily.[5] This is less than 10% of their average weight of 18 to 40 lbs (8 to 18 kg).[6]

Baby ocelots consume considerably less, as they weigh 7 to 14 oz (200 to 340 grams).[7]

How Much Do Ocelots Eat In Captivity?

Ocelots generally need the same amount of food in captivity as in the wilderness, although some food items are substituted with supplements. 

These supplements could lessen their food intake in quantity, as they increased in quality.

Are Ocelots Carnivores?

Yes, ocelots are carnivores, meaning they exclusively eat meat. Their teeth are designed to tear flesh apart and their tongues to clean meat off of bones. 

Ocelots are part of the Felidae family, commonly known as cats. As cats, ocelots have evolved to rely completely on meat.[8]

Are Ocelots Carnivores
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Do Ocelots Eat Fruits?

No, ocelots have no interest in eating fruits, as they shun them both in the wild and in captivity.

Do Ocelots Eat Vegetables?

Ocelots do not eat any greenery, as every nutritional value that they need is found in meat.

What Shouldn’t Ocelots Eat?

As cats, ocelots are likely to react badly to foods that are poisonous to housecats. Food items like chocolate, onions, garlic, grapes, avocado, coffee, and alcohol should be avoided.

Ocelots shouldn’t eat anything that is not meat-based or anything that you wouldn’t feed a housecat. 

Food that ocelots shouldn’t eat include:

  • Chocolate
  • Avocado
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Alcohol
  • Coffee

How Do Ocelots Hunt?

Ocelots are ambush predators. They hunt at night and kill an animal every 3 hours on average. They cover vast distances, up to 8 kilometers (5 miles), and pounce on their targets, killing them instantly with their sharp fangs.

Ocelots are solitary hunters, meaning they rarely group up to hunt. 

Their habits vary slightly depending on their habitat, but their hunting methods are similar from habitat to habitat.

How Do Ocelots Hunt
Image Source

When Do Ocelots Hunt?

Ocelots are nocturnal, meaning they hunt at night and rest during the day. They are helped by their impeccable eyesight, hearing, and smelling abilities

How Do Ocelots Hunt?

Ocelots hunt on the ground, on trees, and in water. They are ambush predators, meaning they hide, then pounce on their target, biting them with their fangs to kill them instantly. 

They can’t chew, so they bite off and swallow small chunks. If they have had enough to eat, they hide the body for later.[9]

How Much Do Ocelots Hunt?

On average, ocelots kill an animal every 3.1 hours. Their nightly routine includes 2.4-5 miles (1.6 to 8 kilometers) of travel. They travel in their territories, which is 2.4-56 mi2 (4-90 km2).[10]

Do Ocelots Eat Humans?

No, ocelots don’t eat humans. They mostly attack animals smaller than 2 lbs (1 kg), so even though they are strong, they have no interest in attacking or eating us.

If you’re scared of being eaten by an ocelot, don’t be. Ocelots are smaller than us, and they know it. 

They avoid humans and won’t try to attack us. Ocelots don’t consider humans as prey.

Will Ocelots Attack You?

Ocelots don’t want to attack humans. There would be no reason for them to attack us, as they don’t see us as potential prey. You shouldn’t provoke an ocelot though. 

They are capable of harming you.


Ocelots are carnivorous predators. Their prey consists of rodents, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, fishes, birds, and insects.

Ocelots have adapted to both rainforests and brushlands and prey upon small and unsuspecting animals found in these habitats. They hunt on the ground, in canopies, and in the water.


What Are Ocelots’ Favorite Food?

Ocelots’ favorite food is rodents, as these are the animals they eat most. Rodents are abundant in both rainforests and brushlands, meaning ocelots in both places have access to them.

Do Ocelots Eat Dogs?

No, ocelots do not eat dogs under normal circumstances. If they encounter a small dog, ocelots can see them as prey, attacking and eating them. If you own a small dog, keep it on a leash in ocelot territory.

Do Ocelots Eat Monkeys?

Yes, ocelots climb trees to hunt for monkeys, especially ocelots in rainforests. In some regions, it’s the most hunted prey by the ocelot. Monkeys sometimes also harass ocelots back.

Do Ocelots Eat Cats?

No. Normally ocelots don’t eat other cats. Other wild cats are stronger than them, and ocelots don’t live in areas with housecats.

Do Ocelots Eat Sloths?

Yes, ocelots eat sloths, but they prefer smaller prey. Sloths are bigger animals than rodents, which are easier to catch. Hunting rodents is less exhausting for ocelots than climbing for sloths.

About Misfit Animals Staff

The Misfit Animals staff consists of animal lovers, pet enthusiasts, veterinarians, zoologists, and other animal experts. Our goal is to provide people with information on proper animal care.

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