(Leopardus pardalis)




Facts about this animal

The ocelot is a medium-sized spotted cat with relatively short legs and a rather short tail. The head-body length ranges from 70-100 m, the tail length from 27-45 cm, the hind foot from 13-15 cm, and the height at shoulder from 40-50 cm. Body weight is between 5.5 and 16 kgs, wehereby females are smaller and lighter than the males.


The ocelot's head is rather large with a relatively large pink nose pad and rather short, rounded ears. The iris is light brown, reddish yellow or golden, the pupils contract into vertical slits. The legs are short with large-padded feet. The tail is less than half of the head-body length.


The coat is short and soft, forming two whirls on the shoulder, the hairline on the nack being directed towards the crown. The ground colour above varies from whitish to tawny-yellow to reddish-grey and grey. The markings of the body run into chainlike streaks and blotches, forming oblique elongate spots bordered with black and enclosing an area darker than ground colour. The underparts are whitish with black spots. On the head, there are conspicuous superciliar lines and two black cheek stripes on each side, enclosing an almost white area. The backside of the ears is black with a yellowish central spot.


Ocelots are predominantly nocturnal living solitary lives except during the mating season when stable pairs are formed. As in some other cats, the males occupy large territories, which do not overlap with the territories of other males, but with those of one or several females.


After a gestation period of 70-80 days, the female gives birth to a litter of usually 1 to 3 kittens. The male may participate in rearing the young.


Ocelots predate on a wide variety of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, and also feed on fish, insects and fruit. Frequent prey animals include rabbits (Sylvilagus spp.), agoutis (Dasyprocta spp.), opossums (Didelphys, Marmosa, Caluromys, lizards (em>Tupinambis, Iguana spp. etc.)

Did you know?
that from 1976 to 1983 more than 290,000 ocelot skins were recorded as "gross exports" by CITES? Subsequently, the numbers dropped dramatically: from 1984 to 2006 only 8196 skins were exported, most of these before 1990. The reduction of the trade volume was due to the listing in CITES Appendix I of the entire species Leopardus pardalis as from 18 January 1990


Name (Scientific) Leopardus pardalis
Name (English) Ocelot
Name (French) Ocelot
Name (German) Ozelot
Name (Spanish) Ocelote
Local names Brazil: Jaguatirica
Central America: manigordo, gato tigre, tigre chico
French Guyana: chat tig
Guaraní: Yagua-tirika
Mayan: Zac-xicin
Suriname: Hétigrikati
Various countries: chiví-guazú, cunaguaro, gato bueno, gato maracaja, gato mourisco, gato onza, maracaju-acu, pumillo, tigrezillo, tigrillo, tirica
CITES Status Appendix I
CMS Status Not listed



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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service



Range North and Central America: Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, SW United States. South America: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela.
Habitat Forest, savannas and shrubland
Wild population No global data available, but decreasing (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 268 animals reported to ISIS in 2008. In most cases the subspecies is not known.

In the Zoo



How this animal should be transported

Transport crates should be sufficiently large to meet legal requirements and sufficiently strong to prevent escape or damage to the crate and animal. Basic design should allow free flow of air through multiple sides of the container. Preferably, a double door design at least on one end of the crate should be used. The "inner" door should have bars or wire mesh to contain the animal, and the "outer" door should consist of a thin panel of expanded metal or plywood that provides safety for the handlers and isolation for the animal. The doors should travel vertically to facilitate animal transfer and contain a secure locking system. The crate should drain well, and absorbent bedding should be used to prevent the animal from being exposed to or lying in urine or excreta.


The shipment should be organised in a way to minimise stress. The animal should have access to its transport crate for 2 weeks before shipment, preferably being fed within it. If an extended trip is anticipated, water and food as may be required should be provided while the animal is in transit.


For air transport, Container Note 82 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


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Why do zoos keep this animal

The ocelot is not a threatened species, but it is an attractive medium-sized cat, which is a good ambassador species for the conservation of the threatened neotropical forests. There are some coordinated breeding efforts at the regional level.