Leopardus pardalis


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Leopardus pardalis
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common Name(s):
English Ocelot
Spanish Manigordo, Gato Onza, Ocelote, Tigrillo
Taxonomic Notes: This species is genetically very diverse across its range and shows a high degree of population structure, with four distinct clusters: Central America and Mexico, north-northwest South America, north-northeast South America and southern South America. The demarcation between northern and southern South America was identified as the Amazon river (Eizirik et al. 1998).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Caso, A., Lopez-Gonzalez, C., Payan, E., Eizirik, E., de Oliveira, T., Leite-Pitman, R., Kelly, M. & Valderrama, C.
Reviewer(s): Nowell, K., Breitenmoser-Wursten, C., Breitenmoser, U. (Cat Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
Recent ecological studies have shown that the ocelot usually ranks first in felid abundance in most habitat types in the lowland Neotropics, and that the species can reach density estimates high enough for maintaining several long-tern viable populations, especially in the Amazon Basin, its stronghold (Oliveira et al. in submission, Oliveira et al. in press). For this reason it is listed as Least Concern. However, some subpopulations are threatened, and decreasing (IUCN Cats Red List Workshop 2007).
2002 Least Concern
1990 Vulnerable (IUCN 1990)
1988 Vulnerable (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
1986 Vulnerable (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
1982 Vulnerable (Thornback and Jenkins 1982)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The ocelot is widely distributed from Mexico through Central and South America south to NE Argentina and southern Brazil and Uruguay, found in every country except Chile. Only a small remnant population is found north of the Rio Grande in the United States, estimated at 80-120 animals (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002). In Mexico it has disappeared from much of its historic range on the west coast. There are report of the species up to 3000 m but there are likely outliers.
Argentina; Belize; Bolivia, Plurinational States of; Brazil; Colombia; Costa Rica; Ecuador; El Salvador; French Guiana; Guatemala; Guyana; Honduras; Mexico; Nicaragua; Panama; Paraguay; Peru; Suriname; Trinidad and Tobago; United States; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Ocelot population densities throughout its entire range from 5 to 100/100 km², and are typically much higher than other small sympatric felids (Oliveira et al. in press). Ocelots exert a negative effect on the population of the smaller sympatric species (the ocelot effect) (Oliveira et al. in press). Vulnerable in Colombia (Rodriguez-Mahecha et al., 2006) and Argentina (Diaz and Ojeda 2000). In Brazil, populations outside the Amazon are listed as VU (Machado et al. 2005).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: The species occupies a wide spectrum of habitats including mangrove forests and coastal marshes, savanna grasslands and pastures, thorn scrub, and tropical forest of all types (primary, secondary, evergreen, seasonal and montane, although it typically occurs at elevations below 1,200 m) (Nowell and Jackson 1996), and shows a higher level of habitat plasticity than previously thought (Oliveira et al. in press).

The ocelot is a medium sized felid (11 kg), with a litter size of 1.4 kittens (1–4), and typically nocturno-crepuscular activity, but that could also be active during daytime (Oliveira and Cassaro 2005, Oliveira 1994). Throughout much of its range (including Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and Belize) this tends to be the most abundant cat species. The ocelot also reaches higher density estimates than its sympatric smaller species, usually >>0.15/km², and also negatively impact its small guild members. Its diet includes small mammals, birds and reptiles, but larger sized prey (>800 g), such as agoutis, armadillos, pacas, etc. are vital for the species persistence in an area. Average mean weight of mammalian prey is 1.4 kg (Oliveira et al. in press).
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The ocelot has been described as being tolerant of disturbed habitat and persists in wooded patches near human settlements. However, recent studies have depicted a more specialized animal operating under rather harsh environmental constraints (Nowell and Jackson 1996). Although widespread commercial harvests for the fur trade ceased decades ago, some illegal trade still persists. At present the major threats are habitat loss and fragmentation, illegal trade (pets and pelts), and retaliatory killing due to depredation of poultry (IUCN Cats Red List workshop, 2007).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Included on CITES Appendix I. The species is protected across most of its range, with hunting banned in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, French Guiana, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Trinidad, United States, Uruguay and Venezuela, and hunting regulations in place in Peru (Nowell and Jackson 1996). Part of the species range includes protected areas, including some capable of maintaining long-term viable populations (Oliveira et al. in submission).

Bibliography [top]

de Oliveira, T. G. 1994. Neotropical cats: ecology and conservation. EDUFMA, São Luís, MA, Brazil.

de Oliveira, T. G. and Cassaro, K. 2005. Guia de campo dos felinos do Brasil. Instituto Pró-Carnívoros/Fundação Parque Zoológico de São Paulo/Sociedade de Zoológicos do Brasil/Pró-Vida Brasil, São Paulo, Brazil.

Díaz, G. B and Ojeda, R. A. (eds). 2000. Libro rojo: mamíferos amenazados de la Argentina. pp. 106 pp.. Soc. Argentina para el Estudio de los Mamíferos, Buenos Aires.

Eizirik, E., Bonatto, S. L., Salzano, F. M., Johnson, W. E., O'Brien, S. J., Crawshaw Jr., P. G., Vie, J.-C. and Brousset, D. M. 1998. Phylogeographic patterns and evolution of the mitochondrial DNA control region in two neotropical cats (Mammalia, felidae). Journal of Molecular Evolution 47: 613-624.

IUCN. 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 5 October 2008).

Machado, A. B. M., Drummond, G. M. and Martins, C. S. 2005. Lista da Fauna Brasileira Ameaçada de Extinção: Incluindo as Espécies Quase Ameaçadas e Deficientes em Dados. Fundação Biodiversitas, Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Nowell, K. and Jackson, P. 1996. Wild Cats. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Oliveira, T. G. de, Mazim F. D., Kasper, C. B., Tortato, M. A., Soares, J. B. G. and Marques, R. V. Submitted. Small Neotropical felids density in Brazil: a preliminary demographic assessment of the little known species. Biological Conservation.

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

Rodriguez-Mahecha, J. V., Alberico, M., Trujillo, F. and Jorgenson, J. 2006. Libro Rojo de los Mamíferos de Colombia. Serie Libros Rojos de Especies Amenazadas de Colombia. Conservación Internacional Colombia & Ministerio de Ambiente, vivienda y Desarrollo Territorial, Bogota, Colombia.

Sunquist, M. and Sunquist, F. 2002. Wild Cats of the World. University of Chicago Press.

Citation: Caso, A., Lopez-Gonzalez, C., Payan, E., Eizirik, E., de Oliveira, T., Leite-Pitman, R., Kelly, M. & Valderrama, C. 2008. Leopardus pardalis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <>. Downloaded on 26 July 2014.
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