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

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

Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) Subspecies (lower classification)

Juvenile ocelot standing in forest habitat

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: