The Ocelot is a forest living wild cat found from South America to the southernmost parts of the U.S. It used to be known as Felis pardalis, but its current scientific name is Leopardus pardalis. You will find the Ocelot in the genus Leopardus in the family Felidae.It shares this genus with two other spotted cats, Leopardus wiedii (Margay) and Leopardus tigrinus (Oncilla). The name Ocelot is derived from the Nahuatl name Ocelotl.

The Ocelot can grow up to 100 centimeters (3'2") long, not counting the 45 centimeter (1'6") tail. It will typically weigh between 10 and 15 kilograms (20 and 33 pounds). This makes the Ocelot bigger than the Leopardus wiedii (Margay) and Leopardus tigrinus (Little Spotted Cat).

Leopardus pardalis can be divided into 11 different subspecies. In Argentina and Paraguay at the southern half of the South American continent you will find Leopardus pardalis mitis, while Leopardus pardalis aequatorialis inhabit the Andes along the western coast. Bolivia is home to Leopardus pardalis steinbachi. The Amazon Rainforest stretches over several South American countries and is inhabited by Leopardus pardalis pardalis. Leopardus pardalis puseaus is native to Ecuador, while Leopardus pardalis pseudopardalis is a Colombian subspecies. Leopardus pardalis maripensis can be found in Venezuela, Guyana and Trinidad and Leopardus pardalis mearnsi inhabit most parts of Central America. In Mexico you can find no less than three Ocelot subspecies: Leopardus pardalis sonoriensis, Leopardus pardalis nelsoni and Leopardus pardalis albescens. Leopardus pardalis albescens is also found in the U.S., chiefly in the southern parts of the state of Texas.

Once upon a time, the Ocelot could be found in the state of Arizona and in most parts of the chaparral region in south and eastern Texas. Today, wild Ocelots can only be found in a very limited part of the United States. The U.S. population is spread over several smaller areas in South Texas. Habitat loss, highway constructions and the introduction of dogs are three factors that pose great risks to the remaining U.S. Ocelot population. Young male Ocelots need to embark on wanderings in search of unclaimed territory as they mature, and unfortunately many of them are killed by cars as they try to cross highways.

Even though the U.S. Ocelot population has decreased significantly, the Ocelot is only considered “Least Concern” in the IUCN List of Threatened Species. This is because the Red List is based on world-wide animal populations, and not divided into separate countries or habitats. In the Amazon basin, you can still find plenty of Ocelots, while the species show significant signs of decline in the rest of its range. The six categories used by IUCN is Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, Near Threatened, Least Concern, and Data Deficient. The Texas subspecies, Leopardus pardalis albescens, is listed as Data Deficient.  

The fur of the Ocelot resembles Jaguar fur and the Ocelot has been vigorously hunted by poachers for many centuries. Since the Ocelot is considered and endangered species in the United States, you must obtain a special permit before you engage in any form of Ocelot trade. Importing Ocelot fur to the United States is also prohibited. Figures from the 1980’s show that the number of Ocelot furs on the world market decreased from 30,000 to 4,000 between 1980 and 1984. There is still a large black market for Ocelot furs, and Ocelots are also sold as pets – especially the young ones. Poachers will kill the mother and sell the cubs as house pets.
More info on big and small wild cats:

Bengal Tigers
White Bengal Tigers
Royal Bengal Tigers
Bengal Tigers Facts
Jaguar Animal - Jaguar Cats
Black Jaguar (Animal)
Jaguar Animal Facts
Ocelot cat
Ocelot facts & Information
Siberian Tiger
White Siberian Tiger
Siberian Tiger Habitat
Siberian Tiger Fact
Siberian Tiger Information
Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard Habitat
Snow Leopard Fact
Endangered Snow Leopard
White Tigers
White Bengal Tigers
White Siberian Tigers
Baby White Tigers


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