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Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis)

  • Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis)

    Common Name/s: Ocelot  
    Scientific name: Leopardus pardalis
    Brazilian common name/s: Jaguatirica, Gato-maracajá-verdadeiro, Maracajá-açu

    Quick facts (average values with minimum and maximum in parenthesis)

    Body length (cm): (71-90)b Tail (cm):  (32-41) b Diet: Carnivorous
    Weight (kg): (6 - 18)a Height (cm):  Home range (km2): (2-90) a
    Litter size:  1 (1-4)c Gestation (days): (72-82) c Longevity (years): 
    Social structure: Solitary
    Activity pattern: Mainly nocturnal and crepuscular

    a (de Oliveira et al. 2010), b (Emmons & Feer 1997), c (Murray & Gardner 1997)

    Physical description
    This medium sized felid has thick pale golden yellow fur, with dark rosettes arranged mainly on the sides of the body. The rosettes on the back merge into stripes that run from the top of eyes to the base of the tail.

    Habitat and Ecology
    One of the most widely distributed and best studied felids in the Americas. Ocelots currently occur in all of Latin America except Chile but were almost extirpated from the United States (Horne et al. 2009; de Oliveira et al. 2010). They live in forests, grasslands, savannas and wetlands and appear to require areas of dense habitat cover (Di Bitetti et al. 2006; Dillon & Kelly 2008; Goulart et al. 2009; Horne et al. 2009; Jackson et al. 2005); Trolle & Kery 2003; de Oliveira et al. 2010).
    Ocelots are solitary with predominantly nocturnal activity patterns (Di Bitetti et al. 2006; Dillon & Kelly 2008; Kolowski & Alonso 2010; Maffei et al. 2005). During the day, they sleep in hollow trees or shrubs. It has a great ability to climb trees, jump and swim.
    It feeds mainly on small and medium sized vertebrates, including large rodents (agoutis and paca), monkeys, sloths, small rodents and marsupials, birds, and reptiles (Abreu et al. 2008; Martins et al. 2008); Miranda et al. 2005; Moreno et al. 2006; Wang 2002; de Oliveira et al. 2010)

    Threats and Conservation
    It was one of the most exploited cats for the fur trade. In Brazil, 80,000 skins were exported annually. With the law banning hunting this trade has declined and today the main threat to this feline is the destruction of their habitat (Caso et al. 2008). Human disturbance (including logging and hunting pressure) and habitat loss have been shown to negatively influence ocelot density and probability of occurrence (Di Bitetti et al. 2008; Michalski & Peres 2005) and populations are declining across its range. It is classified by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as “Least Concern” and by IBAMA, as threatened with extinction.

    Online links
    IUCN redlist ( presents a summary of current knowledge on distribution and conservation status

    IUCN Cat Specialist Group:

    IUCN Cat Specialist Group species accounts:

    Abreu, K. C., Moro-Rios, R. F., Silva-Pereira, J. E., Miranda, J. M. D., Jablonski, E. F., & Passos, F. C. (2008). Feeding habits of ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) in Southern Brazil. Mammalian Biology, 73, 407-411.

    Caso, A., Lopez-Gonzalez, C., Payan, E., Eizirik, E., de Oliveira, T. G., Leite-Pitman, R., Kelly, M., & Valderrama, C. (2008). Leopardus pardalis. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.2. <>, , Downloaded on 06 July 2010.

    Di Bitetti, M. S., Paviolo, A., & De Angelo, C. (2006). Density, habitat use and activity patterns of ocelots (Leopardus pardalis) in the Atlantic Forest of Misiones, Argentina. Journal of Zoology, 270, 153-163.

    Di Bitetti, M. S., Paviolo, A., De Angelo, C. D., & Di Blanco, Y. E. (2008). Local and continental correlates of the abundance of a neotropical cat, the ocelot (Leopardus pardalis). Journal of Tropical Ecology, 24, 189-200.

    Dillon, A., & Kelly, M. J. (2008). Ocelot home range, overlap and density: comparing radio telemetry with camera trapping. Journal of Zoology, 275, 391-398.

    Emmons, L. H., & Feer, F. (1997). Neotropical rainforest mammals: a field guide. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Goulart, F. V. B., Caceres, N. C., Graipel, M. E., Tortato, M. A., Ghizoni, I. R., & Oliveira-Santos, L. R. (2009). Habitat selection by large mammals in a southern Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Mammalian Biology, 74, 184-192.

    Horne, J. S., Haines, A. M., Tewes, M. E., & Laack, L. L. (2009). Habitat partitioning by sympatric ocelots and bobcats: implications for recovery of ocelots in southern Texas. Southwestern Naturalist, 54, 119-126.

    Jackson, V. L., Laack, L. L., & Zimmerman, E. G. (2005). Landscape metrics associated with habitat use by ocelots in south Texas. Journal of Wildlife Management, 69, 733-738.

    Kolowski, J. M., & Alonso, A. (2010). Density and activity patterns of ocelots (Leopardus pardalis) in northern Peru and the impact of oil exploration activities. Biological Conservation, 143, 917-925.

    Maffei, L., Noss, A. J., Cuellar, E., & Rumiz, D. I. (2005). Ocelot (Felis pardalis) population densities, activity, and ranging behaviour in the dry forests of eastern Bolivia: data from camera trapping. Journal of Tropical Ecology, 21, 349-353.

    Martins, R., Quadros, J., & Mazzolli, M. (2008). Food habits and anthropic interference on the territorial marking activity of Puma concolor and Leopardus pardalis (Carnivora: Felidae) and other carnivores in the Jureia-Itatins Ecological Station, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Revista Brasileira de Zoologia, 25, 427-435.

    Michalski, F., & Peres, C. A. (2005). Anthropogenic determinants of primate and carnivore local extinctions in a fragmented forest landscape of southern Amazonia. Biological Conservation, 124, 383-396.

    Miranda, J. M. D., Bernardi, I. P., Abreu, K. C., & Passos, F. C. (2005). Predation on Alouatta guariba clamitans Cabrera (Primates, Atelidae) by Leopardus pardalis (Linnaeus) (Carnivora, Felidae). Revista Brasileira de Zoologia, 22, 793-795.

    Moreno, R. S., Kays, R. W., & Samudio, R. (2006). Competitive release in diets of ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) and puma (Puma concolor) after jaguar (Panthera onca) decline. Journal of Mammalogy, 87, 808-816.

    Murray, J. L., & Gardner, G. L. (1997). Leopardus pardalis. Mammalian Species, 548, 1-10.

    Trolle, M., & Kery, M. (2003). Estimation of ocelot density in the pantanal using capture-recapture analysis of camera-trapping data. Journal of Mammalogy, 84, 607-614.

    Wang, E. (2002). Diets of ocelots (Leopardus pardalis), margays (L-wiedii), and oncillas (L-tigrinus) in the Atlantic rainforest in southeast Brazil. Studies on Neotropical Fauna and Environment, 37, 207-212.

    de Oliveira, T. G., Tortato, M. A., Silveira, L., Kasper, C. B., Mazim, F. D., Lucherini, M., Jácomo, A. T. A., Soares, J. B. G., Marques, R. V., & Sunquist, M. E. (2010). Ocelot ecology and its effect on the small-felid guild in the lowland Neotropics. In D. W. Macdonald & A. Loveridge (Eds.), Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids (pp. 563-584). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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