The Oncilla, or little spotted cat, is South America’s smallest wild cat. Oncilla subspecies are found in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Venezuela, Guyana, and Argentina. Oncilla can be found in mountain forests, subtropical forests, and semi-arid areas with elevations above 4900 feet. Oncilla were overhunted in the second half of the twentieth century due to their beautiful fur. Another factor threatening oncilla survival is habitat loss. Oncilla is rarely seen in the wild, but it is not currently listed as an endangered species.
Oncilla is a small cat that can grow to be 15.7 to 21.7 inches long and weigh 3.3 to 6.6 pounds. The tail is slightly shorter than the body, measuring 9.8 to 15.7 inches in length.
Oncilla’s body is covered in beautiful fur that can be tan or ochre in color. Dark rosettes cover the upper side of the body. The lower half of the body is pale and has only a few spots. The tail is covered in black rings and has a black tip.
Approximately one-fifth of all oncillas are completely black. This type of oncilla prefers to live in densely forested areas.
Oncilla has a slim build, a narrow muzzle, round ears, and round eyes with prominent golden irises.
Oncilla is a skilled climber who spends much of its time in the trees (partial arboreal life). The tail is used for balance as it moves through the treetops.
Oncilla is active at dusk and at night (crepuscular animal) (nocturnal animal).
Oncilla is a solitary creature that only congregates with other oncillas during mating season.
Oncilla, unlike many other cat species, is an excellent swimmer.
Oncilla eats meat (meat-eater). It eats small mammals (including rodents and primates), birds, lizards, invertebrates, and eggs.
In order to communicate, Oncilla makes a variety of sounds. When young animals meet, they make a characteristic purring sound, whereas adult animals make a gurgling sound.
At the age of 2 or 2.5 years, Oncilla reaches sexual maturity. Oncilla’s mating season occurs in the spring and summer.
Female pregnancy lasts 74 to 76 days and results in 1 to 3 kittens.
Young ocelots lack development. They open their eyes between the ages of 8 and 17 days after birth. All teeth will erupt at the same time 21 days after birth. Young oncilla will be ready to eat solid food 38 to 56 days after birth.
Oncilla can mate with other cat species, including Geoffroy’s cat and the pumpus cat. Kittens born are hybrids (genetically mixed species). The number of pure oncillas in the wild is decreasing as a result of this type of breeding.
In the wild, oncilla have an average lifespan of 11 years. Although captive oncilla has a high mortality rate (particularly in young animals), it can live for up to 17 years if kept in the right conditions.