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Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) Fact Sheet, 2011  

Last Updated: Dec 2, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) Fact Sheet, 2011

Image Credit: San Diego Zoo Global. All Rights Reserved.

TaxonomyPhysical Characteristics

Describer (Date): Linnaeus, 1758

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Felidae

Subfamily: Felinae

Genus: Leopardus

Species: Leopardus pardalis

Subspecies: 10 named

Body Weight: 11-16 kg (24-35 lb)

Body Length: 70-100 cm (27.6-39.4 in)

Tail Length: 27-45 cm (10.6-17.7 in)

Pelage: Short, sleek hair. Background color varies from grayish to buff to cinnamon. Chains of black-bordered spots running along shoulders and back. Tail ringed with black or with black bars on top.

Distribution & StatusBehavior & Ecology

Range: Mexico, Central America, to NE Argentina, southern Brazil and Uruguay. A small population (fewer than 100 estimated) in southern Arizona and South Texas.

Habitat: Prefers dense habitat cover; sea level to about 1,200 m (3,937 ft)

IUCN Status: Least Concern; assessed in 2008

CITES Appendix: Appendix I (no commercial trade)

Population in Wild: Densities across range vary from 5 to 100 individuals per 100 km sq (per mi sq)

Locomotion: Slow steady walk when hunting - 0.3 km/hr (0.2 mph); powerful climbers and adept swimmers.

Activity Cycle: Mainly a nocturnal predator but sometimes hunt in day (if prey sought is active in day).

Social Groups: Mainly solitary but independent young may associate with parents. Males and females may associate even when not breeding.

Diet: Highly adaptable generalist predator; consume small and medium-sized prey as available.

Predators: Puma, jaguar, harpy eagle, anaconda, and boa constrictor.

Reproduction & DevelopmentSpecies Highlights

Sexual Maturity: Females can reproduce at 18-22 months; males produce sperm at 2.5 years.

Gestation: 79-85 days

Litter Size: 1-2, rarely 3 or 4

Birth weight: 250 g (8.8 oz)

Age at Weaning: May continue to nurse for 6 months; take solid food at 8 weeks.

Longevity: 7-10 years in captivity; up to 20 years in wild.

Feature Facts: Ocelots were hunted by the millions until the 1980s when
commercial trade in skins was banned; fewer than 100 ocelots remain in the wild in the U.S.

Society Press: The San Diego Zoo Global currently uses an ocelot as a leash-trained Animal Ambassador to promote conservation awareness
for these cats that are endangered in the United States.


About This Fact Sheet

© 2011 San Diego Zoo Global. Minor updates in April 2015.

How to cite: Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) Fact Sheet, 2011. c2011. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Global; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd].
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Jan 15)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Global makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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