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.
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)
Species: Leopardus pardalis (Ocelot)
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).
This Ocelot classification chart shows where this cat fits into the Felidae family and in particular the Leopardus genus.
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.
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.
Worldwide, nature-based tourism is becoming more popular and important economically. However, there is still debate regarding its impact on wildlife in protected areas.
We conducted a quasi-experimental study to investigate the effects of tourism on the mammal community of Cavernas do Peruaçu National Park, a priority area for conservation in Brazil. We used camera traps to survey tourist and non-tourist trails during 2011-2017, encompassing periods before and after tourism started in the Park. We used four metrics for assessment: species richness, probability of using trails, activity levels and daily activity patterns.
After tourism began in the Park there was no significant change in species richness and the probability of using tourist trails either increased or remained stable for five of the six species assessed. The rock cavy Kerodon rupestris was the only species to be displaced from tourist areas and to show reduced overall activity on tourist trails after tourism began. The ocelot Leopardus pardalis showed reduced diurnal activity on tourist trails, an indication of temporal adjustment.
Overall, our results show that the initial years of visitation at the Park had limited negative impacts on the target mammal species, supporting the possibility of accommodating tourism activity and effective conservation of wildlife in the region. However, it is essential to continue monitoring in the Park because of the expected growth in tourism and potential time lags in responses of species.
Barcelos, D.; Vieira, E.M.; Pinheiro, M.S.; Ferreira, G.B.
A before-after assessment of the response of mammals to tourism in a Brazilian national park
2022 Oryx (56): 854-863
Ocelots (Leopardus pardalis) are listed as least concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red list of Threatened Species, yet we lack knowledge on basic demographic parameters across much of the ocelot's geographic range, including population density.
We used camera-trapping methodology and spatially explicit capture-recapture (SECR) models with sex-specific detection function parameters to estimate ocelot densities across 7 field sites over 1 to 12 years (from data collected during 2002-2015) in Belize, Central America.
Ocelot densities in the broadleaf rainforest sites ranged between 7.2 and 22.7 ocelots/100 km², whereas density in the pine (Pinus spp.) forest site was 0.9 ocelots/100km². Applying an inverse-variance weighted average over all years for each broadleaf site increased precision and resulted in average density ranging from 8.5 to 13.0 ocelots/100 km².
Males often had larger movement parameter estimates and higher detection probabilities at their activity centers than females. In most years, the sex ratio was not significantly different from 50:50, but the pooled sex ratio estimated using an inverse weighted average over all years indicated a female bias in one site, and a male bias in another.
We did not detect any population trends as density estimates remained relatively constant over time; however, the power to detect such trends was generally low. Our SECR density estimates were lower but more precise than previous estimates and indicated population stability for ocelots in Belize.
Satter, C.B.; Augustine, B.C.; Harmsen, B.J.; Foster, R.J.; Sanchez, E.E.; Wultsch, C.; Davis, M.L.; Kelly, M.J.
Long-Term Monitoring of Ocelot Densities in Belize
2019 The Journal of Wildlife Management (83): 283-294
The spatiotemporal distribution of a predator within an environment tends to be synchronized with that of its prey, to maximize the efficiency of its hunting behavior. However, small predators may also be obliged to avoid potentially agonistic encounters with larger predators due to interspecific competition and intraguild predation. We used occupancy models and indices of temporal overlap to evaluate whether the occurrence of prey species, ocelots and top predators (puma and jaguar) influenced the habitat use and activity patterns of the northern tiger cat and jaguarundi in a region of the semi-arid Caatinga biome in Bahia, northeastern Brazil.
The occurrence of prey had a positive influence on the use of habitat by the small felids. The northern tiger cat was nocturnal-crepuscular and presented a high degree of temporal overlap with Spix's cavy and the rock cavy. The jaguarundi was diurnal, by contrast and overlapped temporally with the agouti. The occurrence of the ocelot did not influence the habitat or daily activity pattern of the jaguarundi, but presented a high degree of temporal overlap with the northern tiger cat, which adopted a strategy of spatial segregation to avoid direct contact with this dominant competitor. The top predators did not influence the spatiotemporal distribution of the small felids, indicating that their niches are segregated by dietary parameters related to differences in body size.
Our results indicate that the availability of prey has a more profound influence on the spatiotemporal ecology of the small felids than the occurrence of the top predators, although the presence of the northern tiger cat appeared to be correlated negatively with that of the ocelot. We believe that environmental factors, such as the conservation status, size and isolation of native habitats, may have a fundamental influence on the strategies adopted by the northern tiger cat to mediate its coexistence with the ocelot.
Dias, D.M.; Masara, R.L.; de Campos, C.B.; Rodrigues, F.H.G.
Feline predator-prey relationships in a semi-arid biome in Brazil
2019 Journal of Zoology (307): 282-291
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.)
Ocelot Facts and Information
These organizations have well researched and authoritative information on Ocelots:
- Ocelot Status and Distributon Map - IUCN Red List
- Ocelot Detailed Information - IUCN Cat Specialist Group
- Ocelot Academic Literature pdf - IUCN Cat Specialist Group