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, however only a remnant population remains of its prior North American distribution. In spite of better legal protection the Ocleot 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.

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 (Leopardus pardalis) is as follows:

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)

Ocelot in jungle habitat

Juvenile ocelot standing in forest habitat

Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) Subspecies

Lower classification

Nine subspecies of Ocelots were recognized in the past:

  • Leopardus pardalis pardalis
  • Leopardus pardalis aequatorialis
  • Leopardus pardalis albescens
  • Leopardus pardalis melanurus
  • Leopardus pardalis mitis
  • Leopardus pardalis pseudopardalis
  • Leopardus pardalis pusaeus
  • Leopardus pardalis sonoriensis
  • Leopardus pardalis steinbachi

However the current Felidae taxonomy revision suggests only two subspecies pending further research:

1. Leopardus pardalis pardalis

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

2. Leopardus pardalis mitis

Northern and central South America - larger and more yellow.

Ocelot Conservation & Research

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:

Please support these organizations with their important work. No matter how small or large your donation, every bit helps!

Ocelot portrait by Giovanni G Bellani

Ocelot walking through jungle habitat

Ocelot Facts and Information

The following websites have well researched and authoritative information on Ocelots:

Books on Neotropical Cats

Currently there is no publication in print dedicated to just the cats of Central and South America.

A book entitled Neotropical Cats by TG de Oliviera was published in 1994 however is no longer in print, and may be available in libraries or in used book stores.

The latest information on these cats can be found in books covering all wild cats.

Neotropical Cats by TG de Oliveira 1994
Neotropical Cats by TG de Oliveira (1994) - Out of Print
Try AbeBooks ~ Book Review 1996