Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) - Leopardus Lineage
Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis)
By Tom Smylie (US Fish & Wildlife Service, Image Archive) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The beautifully marked Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) is widespread and common throughout most of its range in Latin America.

The Ocelot is the largest cat in the Leopardus group, and is an agile climber and a strong swimmer.

In spite of better legal protection, the Ocelot is still hunted illegally for the fur and pet trade, and clearing of its natural forest habitat for farming has become a major threat to its survival. Only a remnant population remains of its prior North American distribution.


2023 - Ocelots in the News / Podcasts / Where to See Ocelots

Leopardus Lineage

1. Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis)

2. Geoffroy’s Cat (Leopardus geoffroyi)

3. Andean Cat (Leopardus jacobita)

4. Margay (Leopardus wiedii)

5. Pampas Cat (Leopardus colocola)

6. Northern Tiger Cat (Leopardus tigrinus)

7. Southern Tiger Cat (Leopardus guttulus)

8. Guiña or Kodkod (Leopardus guigna)

Unique Facts about Ocelots

~ Largest of the small cats of Latin America ~

~ Agile climber and rests in trees ~

~ Strong swimmer and catches fish and crabs ~

Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) Classification

Ocelots belong to the genus Leopardus and the full taxonomy, scientific classification or higher classification of the Ocelot species is:

Kingdom: Animalia (animals)

Phylum: Chordata (vertebrates)

Class: Mammalia (mammals)

Order: Carnivora (carnivores)

Suborder: Feliformia (cat-like)

Family: Felidae (cats)

Subfamily: Felinae (small cats)

Genus: Leopardus

Species: Leopardus pardalis (Ocelot)


L.p. pardalis

L.p. mitis


The scientific name for the Ocelot cat is Leopardus pardalis which is also known as the binomial name, species name, latin name, biological name or zoological name. Some use the term 'botanical name' however that term is only applicable to the plant kingdom (botany) and not the animal kingdom (zoology).

Classification Chart

This Ocelot classification chart shows where this cat fits into the Felidae family and in particular the Leopardus genus.

Ocelot Classification Chart
Click chart to download.
Permission to use for personal or educational use.
Credit: www.WildCatFamily.com.

Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) Subspecies

Historically up to ten subspecies of Ocelots were recognized (listed approximately north to south):

  • L. p. sonoriensis - NW Mexico and Arizona, USA
  • L. p. albescens - SW Texas, USA to NE Mexico
  • L. p. nilsoni - W Mexico
  • L. p. pardalis - S Mexico through Central America

  • L. p. aequatorialis - N Andes
  • L. p. pseudopardalis - N Colombia and W Venezuela
  • L. p. melanurus - Venezuela east to Guianas highlands, Trinidad Island

  • L. p. mitis - S Brazil through Paraguay to N Argentina
  • L. p. pusaeus - coastal Ecuador to Peru
  • L. p. steinbachi - Bolivian highlands


However the last Felidae taxonomy revision in 2017 suggests only two subspecies, pending further research:

1. Leopardus pardalis pardalis - North American Ocelot

Texas and Arizona south to Costa Rica - smaller and more grey.

2. Leopardus pardalis mitis - South American Ocelot

Northern and central South America - larger and more yellow.

Ocelot Conservation

The global conservation status for Ocelots is Least Concern (LC) across all regions and subspecies.

The following organizations are dedicated to research and conservation of Ocelots:

Ocelot Working Group - Ocelot, Margay and Jaguarundi Conservation

Animal Karma - Feline Conservation Mexico

Belize Wild Cats - Wild Cat Conservation Belize


Wild Cats Americas (WCA) - Small Wild Cats of the Americas

CK Wildlife Research Institute - Ocelot Research Texas

Rainforest Alliance - Ocelot Conservation Latin America

Please support these organizations with their important work if you can. No matter how the size of your contribution, every bit helps!

Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) Research

Here are some papers published on Ocelot cats. Click on the title bar to view the abstract and the link to the article.

View more articles on Leopardus pardalis in the IUCN Cat Specialist Group database. (Scroll down once the library page is loaded to see the list.)

Consider joining the Friends of the Cat Specialist Group to access the full articles and receive their journal Cat News covering the latest wild cat research.


Ocelot in jungle habitat

Map of South America with Countries and Capitals
Map of South America by Nations Online Project

Ocelot Facts and Information

These organizations have well researched and authoritative information on Ocelots:

If you find this website useful, please consider a small contribution of $5 so I can continue to keep it updated. Thank you, Mandy 🙂

Ocelot walking through jungle habitat

Molecular population genetics, evolutionary biology and biological conservation of neotropical carnivores.

Field Guide to the Wild Cats of South America (Spanish)

Neotropical Cats by TG de Oliveira (1994)
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