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Overview

Brief Summary

Description

"Ocelots occur in a wide range of habitats, from rain forest to savanna to dry, scrubby terrain, at mid- to low elevations from Texas and Arizona to northern Argentina. They are feed on small mammals, and also frequently include birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects in their diet. Some also take domestic poultry. Males occupy territories of 4-18 square km that may encompass the territories of one or more females, who use home ranges of 2-11 square km. Ocelots have litters of 1, 2, or occasionally 3 kittens, and raise them in a den. The den can be a bare area in a dense thicket, a hollow tree, or a cave. The young are born fully furred, but with their eyes closed. When they are about a year old, males disperse to lead solitary lives. Young females, who are sexually mature at about 15-22 months of age, often settle on or near their mother's territory. Ocelots are threatened by habitat loss and hunting for the fur trade."

Links:
Mammal Species of the World
Click here for The American Society of Mammalogists species account
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Distribution

Range Description

The Ocelot is widely distributed from United States and Mexico through Central and South America south to North Argentina, southern Brazil and Uruguay, found in every country except Chile. In the United States was recorded in Arizona (Strangl and Young 2011, Avilas-Villegas and Lamberton-Moreno 2012) and in two isolated subpopulations in the southern tip of Texas (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2010). At Uruguay was recorded at the Rivera Department, near the Brazilian border (Andrade-Nuez and Aide 2010).
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Ocelots are most populous in Central America but can be found in all countries between southeastern United States (Texas, Arizona) and northern Argentina. They are found in higher density clusters in northern Central America, northwestern South America, northeastern South America, and central southern South America.

Biogeographic Regions: neotropical (Native )

  • 2004. Cats (Felidae). Pp. 369-383 in M Hutchins, D Kleiman, V Geist, eds. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Vol. Vol. 14, Third Ed. Edition. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group.
  • 2008. "The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species" (On-line). Leopardus pardalis. Accessed April 11, 2009 at http://www.iucnredlist.org.
  • The World Conservation Union. 1996. "IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group" (On-line). Cat Species Information - Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis). Accessed April 08, 2009 at http://www.catsg.org.
  • Wozencraft, W. 2005. Order Carnivora. Pp. 532-539 in D Wilson, D Reeder, eds. Mammal Species of the World, Vol. Vol. 1, Third Ed. Edition. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press.
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occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (20,000-2,500,000 square km (about 8000-1,000,000 square miles)) Historical range: Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Arizona south through Mexico, Central America, and South America to eastern Peru, eastern Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and northern Argentina. Occurs in the mountains of Colombia, Ecuador, and northern Peru, but not on the high plateaus of southern Peru and Bolivia (Kitchener 1991); recently recorded in Uruguay (see Kitchener 1991); to elevations of 1000 m. In the U.S., currently found regularly only in southern Texas (e.g., Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, site of a recent radiotelemetry study). Occurrence in Arizona is based only on a few old records from the vicinity of Fort Verde and Patagonia (Hoffmeister 1986); documentation for these records is less than ideal.

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Historic Range:
U.S.A. (AZ, TX) to Central and South America

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Physical Description

Morphology

Ocelots are the largest member of the genus Leopardus. They weigh between 8.5 and 16 kg, are between 65 and 97 cm long, and males are considerably larger than females. Their pelage is shorter and less soft and thick than their close relative, the margay (Leopardus wiedii). Their ventral pelage is white and their dorsal pelage ranges from off-white to tawny-yellow to reddish-gray. Pelage coloration varies with habitat, as ocelots from arid scrub regions have grayer coats than those found in tropical forests. Entirely black individuals have been seen but are rare. Usually, ocelots have dark streaks, blotches, or rosettes arranged in small clusters around dark-colored areas that tend to run in parallel, horizontal chains. Rosettes and blotches are bordered with black and have a lighter-colored center. Ocelots have two black stripes on their cheeks, black ears with a central yellow spot, and one or two black transverse bars on the insides of the legs. Facial patterns are very distinct, permitting easy recognition of individuals. Their long tail is typically ringed, but may only be marked with dark bars on the dorsal surface. Relative to body-size, they have large paws, which is why their Spanish name is "manigordo", meaning big feet. Additionally, their fore paws are broader than their hind paws. Like other members of the suborder Feliformia, ocelots lack a third molar, have an absent or reduced postglenoid foramen at the base of the skulls, and an anterior palatine canal that passes through the maxilla. They have a concave muzzle and the dental formula is 3/3, 1/1, 3/2, 1/1 for a total of 30 teeth. Their basal metabolic rate is approximately 0.298 cm^3 oxygen/hour.

Range mass: 8.5 to 16 kg.

Range length: 65 to 97 cm.

Average basal metabolic rate: .298 cm3.O2/g/hr.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger

Average basal metabolic rate: 17.368 W.

  • Kitchener, A. 1991. The Natural History of the Wild Cats. Ithaca, New Yor: Cornell University Press.
  • McNab, B. 2000. The standard energetics of mammalian carnivores: Felidae and Hyaenidae. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 63(1): 25-54.
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Size

Length: 125 cm

Weight: 14000 grams

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Size in North America

Length:
Average: 1,078 mm males; 1,022 mm females
Range: 950-1,367 mm males; 920-1,209 mm females

Weight:
Average: 10 kg males; 8.8 kg females
Range: 7-14.5 kg males; 7-10.8 kg females
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Diagnostic Description

Differs from the jaguar in much smaller size (jaguar is 157-242 cm in total length) and pelage spots not forming distinct rosettes. Differs from FELIS WIEDII and F. TIGRINA in being larger (hind foot longer than 145 mm vs. shorter, greatest length of skull more than 120 mm vs. shorter, length of P4 more than 12.7 mm vs. shorter) (Hall 1981). Differs from young mountain lion in having spots arranged in rows or in a chainlike pattern.

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
The species occupies a wide spectrum of habitats types, ranging from scrublands to tropical rain forests. What all these habitats have in common is a well-structured vegetation cover (Emmons 1988, Emmons et al. 1989, Sunquist and Sunquist 2002). Ocelots were recorded in mangrove forests, coastal marshes, savanna grasslands, thorn scrubs, and tropical and subtropical forest (primary, secondary, evergreen, seasonal and montane). The species typically occurs at elevations below 3,000 m but there are occasional reports of the species up to 3,000 m (Nowell and Jackson 1996, Sunquist and Sunquist 2002).

The Ocelot is a medium sized felid (11 kg), with a litter size of 1.4 kittens (14), and typically nocturno-crepuscular activity, but that could also be active during daytime (Oliveira and Cassaro 2005, Di Bitetti et al. 2006). Throughout much of its range tends to be the most abundant cat species. The Ocelot also reaches higher density estimates than its sympatric smaller species and was suggested that also negatively impact its small guild members (Di Bitetti et al. 2010, Oliveira et al. 2010). The species use similar habitat and show similar abundance patterns than Jaguars and Pumas and appear not to be affected by these species (Di Bitetti et al 2010, Davis et al. 2011) Its diet includes small mammals, birds and reptiles, but include also larger sized prey (>800 g), such as agoutis, armadillos, pacas, monkeys, etc. that in some areas can constitute the most important items (Crawshaw 1995, Sunquist and Sunquist 2002, Moreno et al. 2006, Bianchi et al. 2010)

The home ranges of males are larger than the ranges of the sympatric females, but high variation exist on the size between regions (Dillon and Kelly 2008). The largest home ranges (43 km for males and 16 km for females) were observed in Subtropical forest of Brazil and Argentina (Crawshaw 1995) and the smallest (2 to 6 km for males and 1 to 3 km for females) were observed in Texas (US), Brazilian Pantanal, Peruvian Amazonia and Bolivian Chaco (Navarro 1985, Emmons 1988, Crawshaw and Quigley 1989, Laack 1991, Maffei and Noss 2008).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Ocelots are found in a variety of habitats, including tropical forests, savannah grasslands, mangrove forests and marshes, and thorn scrub regions. They generally live at elevations below 1,200 m, but have been sighted at 3,800 m as well. Their primary habitat requirement is dense vegetative cover. Ocelots are found in open areas only when it's cloudy or at night when there is a new moon.

Range elevation: <1200 to 3800 m.

Habitat Regions: tropical

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; chaparral ; forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest

Wetlands: marsh

  • 1999. Carnivora: Felidae. Pp. 816-817 in R Nowak, ed. Walker's Mammals of the World, Vol. Vol. 1, Sixth Ed. Edition. Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press.
  • Flynn, J., G. Wesley-Hunt. 2005. Carnivora. Pp. 175-179 in K Rose, J Archibald, eds. The Rise of Placental Mammals. Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press.
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Comments: Habitats with good cover; when active by day, tends to keep hidden in dense brush (Emmons and Feer 1990). Inhabits dense chaparral thickets in Texas. Elsewhere, occurs in humid tropical forests, mangrove forests, swampy savannas, brushland, and riverine scrub in deserts. Where not hunted, adapts well to disturbed habitats around villages; often uses man-made trails (Emmons and Feer 1990). Mainly terrestrial but climbs, jumps, and swims well (Nowak 1991). Dens are in caves, hollow trees, thickets, or the spaces between the closed buttress roots of large trees; rarely climbs but sometimes may sleep on tree branch.

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Migration

Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Home range in Texas reportedly is a few square kilometers (Kitchener 1991). In Peru, adult females occupied exclusive home ranges of about 2 sq km; male ranges were several times larger, exclusive of those of other males, and overlapped multiple female ranges; individuals often were solitary but appeared to make contact with others frequently (Emmons 1988).

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Trophic Strategy

Ocelots are highly skilled hunters, tracking prey by odor trails, and have an average of 0.9 prey captures per kilometer traveled. Once a prey item is captured, they eat at the kill site and cover the remains when they are finished. Similar to other felids, ocelots are well-adapted to their carnivorous diet, shearing ingested tissue from carcasses with their carnassials, while depending on strong digestive enzymes to help break down ingested proteins.

The diet of ocelots consists of 65 to 66% small rodents, 12 to 18% reptiles, 6 to 10% medium-sized mammals, 4 to 11% birds, and 2 to 7% crustaceans and fish. Their primary prey consists of nocturnal species, including cane mice (Zygodontomys), spiny rats (Echimyidae), common agoutis (Dasyprocta), opossums (Didelphimorphia), and armadillos (Cingulata). Although most prey weighs less than 1 to 3% of their body weight, ocelots also take larger prey, including lesser anteaters (Tamandua tetradactyla), red brocket deer Mazama americana, squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus), and land tortoises (Testudinidae).

Animal Foods: birds; mammals; reptiles; fish; mollusks; aquatic crustaceans

Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates)

  • Redford, K., J. Eisenberg, F. Reid. 1992. Mammals of the Neotropics: the Southern Core. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
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Comments: Feeds on various small to moderate-sized vertebrates: rodents, rabbits, and other small mammals; young deer and peccaries; birds (sometimes including domestic poultry); snakes; lizards; fishes; etc. Hunts and captures prey on the ground (Emmons and Feer 1990).

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Associations

Ocelots significantly impact their environment as predators. Although they feed primarily on terrestrial vertebrates, ocelots are opportunistic hunters and prey upon many types of animals. Occasionally, they serve as prey for larger carnivores (e.g., jaguar, Panthera onca) and are host to numerous parasites.

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

  • Paragonimus
  • Taeniidae
  • Strongylida
  • Toxocara cati
  • Capillaria
  • Spiruridae
  • Aelurostrongylus
  • Oncicola
  • Hammondia pardalis
  • Isospora

  • Patton, S., A. Rabinowitz, S. Johnson. 1986. A coprological study of parasites of wild neotropical felidae.. The Journal of Parasitology, Vol. 72, No. 4: 517-520.
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Although predators themselves, ocelots occasionally become the prey of harpy eagles (Harpia harpyja), pumas (Puma concolor), jaguars (Panthera onca), and anacondas (Eunectes murinus). Many of the characteristics that make them great predators may be useful as antipredator defense mechanisms (e.g., camouflage, keen senses, etc.).

Known Predators:

  • harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja)
  • puma (Puma concolor)
  • jaguar (Panthera onca)
  • anaconda (Eunectes murinus)

Anti-predator Adaptations: cryptic

  • Redford, K., J. Eisenberg. 1989. Advances in Neotropical Mammalogy. University of Texas: Sandhill Crane Press.
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Known prey organisms

Leopardus pardalis preys on:
Nasua nasua
Leontopithecus caissara
Brachyteles arachnoides

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80

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Global Abundance

Unknown

Comments: Fewer than 1000 individuals of subspecies ALBESCENS (Texas and adjacent northeastern Mexico to southern Tamaulipas) are thought to survive (Nowak 1991); 100-130 individuals in Texas according to Caesar Kleberg Institute, 1983. Unknown numbers elsewhere.

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General Ecology

Population density in Costa Rica was estimated at 14-25/100 sq km (Kitchener 1991). In Brazil, Trolle and Kery (2003) used capture-recapture analysis of camera-trapping data to estimate density at 2.82 independent individuals per 5 sq km.

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Leopardus pardalis has keen senses of smell and vision. It uses its sense of smell to locate, track, and approach prey as well as to determine territorial boundaries. They have acute binocular vision that is well-developed for hunting at night. Leopardus pardalis communicates with conspecifics using chemical signals to demarcate territorial boundaries and vocalizations (e.g., mews and yowls) to attract and communicate with potential mates.

Communication Channels: tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Other Communication Modes: pheromones ; scent marks

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Cyclicity

Comments: Nocturnal and diurnal; mainly nocturnal (Emmons and Feer 1990).

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Life Expectancy

In the wild, ocelots live between 7 and 10 years. The oldest known captive ocelot lived to be 21.5 years old in the Phoenix Zoo.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
7 to 10 years.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
21.5 (high) years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
20.3 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 28.2 years (captivity) Observations: One captive animal lived for 28.2 years (Richard Weigl 2005).
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Reproduction

Ocelots are solitary and polygynous, with a single male home range overlapping those of several females. During estrus, females attract potential mates by making loud yowls, similar to those made by domestic cats (Felis catus). After mating pairs are formed, ocelots copulate between 5 and 10 times daily. The likelihood of conception per estrus, which lasts approximately 5 days, is 0.6.

Mating System: polygynous

Ocelots are year-round breeders in the tropics, but autumn and winter birthing peaks reportedly occur in the northern parts of their range (e.g., Mexico and Texas). Estrus lasts 4.63 days on average, and their estrus cycle lasts 25.11 days on average. Once pregnant, females create a den in thick brush where parturition occurs. Gestation lasts 79 to 85 days, and litter sizes range from 1 to 3 kittens, with an average of 1.63 kittens/litter. Young weigh between 200 and 340 g at birth. Females are thought to have 1 litter every 2 years.

Ocelots are weaned by 6 weeks old and reach adult size at about 8 to 10 months old. Females reach sexual maturity at 18 to 22 months old and may breed until they are 13 years old. Males may become sexually mature as early as 15 months; however, spermatogenesis typically begins around 30 months. Evidence suggests that sexual maturation in males is related to territory acquisition.

Breeding interval: Ocelots typically have one to two young every two years.

Range number of offspring: 1 to 3.

Average number of offspring: 1.63.

Range gestation period: 79 to 85 days.

Average weaning age: 6 weeks.

Average time to independence: 12 months.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 18 to 22 months.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 15 (low) months.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 30 months.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; viviparous

Average birth mass: 255.5 g.

Average number of offspring: 2.

Females alone provide parental care to their young. Juvenile ocelots are weaned by 6 weeks old and begin to observe their mother during hunts a few months after birth. They are independent at approximately 1 year, but may be tolerated in their mother's home range until about 2 years old. After dispersing, juveniles must find their own territories.

Parental Investment: altricial ; female parental care ; pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)

  • 1999. Carnivora: Felidae. Pp. 816-817 in R Nowak, ed. Walker's Mammals of the World, Vol. Vol. 1, Sixth Ed. Edition. Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press.
  • 2004. Cats (Felidae). Pp. 369-383 in M Hutchins, D Kleiman, V Geist, eds. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Vol. Vol. 14, Third Ed. Edition. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group.
  • De la Rosa, C., C. Nocke. 2000. A Guide to the Carnivores of Central America. Austin: University of Texas Press.
  • Flynn, J., G. Wesley-Hunt. 2005. Carnivora. Pp. 175-179 in K Rose, J Archibald, eds. The Rise of Placental Mammals. Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press.
  • Kitchener, A. 1991. The Natural History of the Wild Cats. Ithaca, New Yor: Cornell University Press.
  • The World Conservation Union. 1996. "IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group" (On-line). Cat Species Information - Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis). Accessed April 08, 2009 at http://www.catsg.org.
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Texas: breeds in late summer. Births occur in fall and winter in Texas and Mexico (Leopold 1959). Tropics: breeds year-round. Gestation lasts about 70 days. Litter size is 2-4 (usually 2).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Leopardus pardalis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2015

Assessor/s
Paviolo, A., Crawshaw, P., Caso, A., de Oliveira, T., Lopez-Gonzalez, C.A., Kelly, M., De Angelo, C. & Payan, E.

Reviewer/s
Nowell, K., Hunter, L., Schipper, J., Breitenmoser-Wrsten, C., Lanz, T. & Breitenmoser, U.

Contributor/s
Di Blanco, Y., Quiroga, V., Cruz, P., Leite-Pitman, M.R.P., Eizirik, E. & Valderrama, C.

Justification
The Ocelot has a wide distribution, from northern Argentina to the southwestern United States, being the most common felid species in most of the tropical and subtropical habitats of the Neotropics; it is listed as Least Concern. Densities seem to increase with rainfall and decrease with latitude, with the highest densities in tropical areas (Di Bitetti et al. 2008). Even though there are indications of specific population declines, these do not seem to affect the species to the point of categorizing it under any threat category rangewide. Its extensive occurrence in Brazil, added to the remaining area of present distribution allows an effective population of >40,000 mature individuals (Oliveira et al. 2013). At least in some areas of the Amazon basin, populations are apparently healthy and stable. The species is, nevertheless, impacted by habitat loss and fragmentation, intense logging activities, vehicle collisions and poaching (Di Bitetti et al. 2008, Payan et al. 2013). In Colombia, Ocelots manage to survive in oil palm landscapes and extensive cattle ranches in the llanos and Inter-Andean valleys (Boron and Payan 2013, Diaz-Pulido and Payan 2011). In Argentina, the species still is found in all the subtropical area and although it is affected by poaching and logging (Di Bitetti et al.2006, 2008, 2010), a total of 1,500 to 8,000 individuals is estimated for this country at the southern range of the species (Aprile et al. 2012). Populations of northeastern Mexico and Texas have experienced dramatic declines and the genetic impacts of isolation are apparent, particularly in Texas (Janecka et al. 2011 and Janecka et al. 2014). The number of Ocelots in Texas is believed to be between 50 80 individuals. These areas will certainly need attention or Ocelots are likely to be extirpated there.

History
  • 2008
    Least Concern (LC)
  • 2002
    Least Concern (LC)
  • 1996
    Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • 1990
    Vulnerable (V)
  • 1988
    Vulnerable (V)
  • 1986
    Vulnerable (V)
  • 1982
    Vulnerable (V)
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Due to their abundance and broad distribution, ocelots are list as a species of "least concern" according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Major threats to their persistence include habitat loss and fragmentation, illegal trade as pets and pelts, and retaliatory killings by poultry farmers. Despite this, ocelots have made a strong recovery and it was estimated that there were between 1.5 and 3 million ocelots living in 1996.

Due to their popularity in Western fur trade, ocelots were nearly extinct by the mid 1980's. Concern over their potential extinction contributed to the formation of the 1975 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The selling of ocelot fur significantly decreased in the 1980's and is no longer considered a threat to their survival.

Once found as far east as Louisiana and Arkansas and now found only in southernmost Texas, Leopardus pardalis albescens is the only subspecies that is classified as endangered. This subspecies' declining numbers are likely the result of habitat loss, which is forcing individuals to have larger home ranges in order to support their daily prey requirements. However, larger home ranges may decrease mating opportunities.

US Federal List: endangered

CITES: appendix i

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N1 - Critically Imperiled

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure

Reasons: Widely distributed from Texas to South America; populations are reduced and/or declining in many areas, though good data are scant; threatened by continued destruction of suitable habitat, exploitation for fur, and predator control.

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Current Listing Status Summary

Status: Endangered
Date Listed: 03/28/1972
Lead Region:   Southwest Region (Region 2) 
Where Listed: U.S.A.(AZ, TX) to Central and South America


Population detail:

Population location: U.S.A.(AZ, TX) to Central and South America
Listing status: E

For most current information and documents related to the conservation status and management of Leopardus pardalis, see its USFWS Species Profile

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Status

The Texas Ocelot, Leopardus pardalis albescens, is Endangered.
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Population

Population
Ocelot population densities throughout its entire range varies widely from 2.5 to 160/100 km. At a continental scale, Ocelot densities decrease with latitude and increase with rainfall (Di Bitetti et al. 2008). Primary productivity seems to determine the abundance of this wild cat across their range, but at a local scale their abundance may be affected by logging and poaching or by competition with other species (Di Bitetti et al. 2008). The lowest densities are found at the Pine Forest of Belize (Dillon and Kelly 2007), dry areas of Mexico (Gonzalez et al. 2003) and the Caatinga in northeastern Brazil (Oliveira 2012). The maximum estimated density was found at the Barro Colorado Island in Panam (Rodgers et al. 2014). The species is considered Endangered in Mexico (Norma Oficial Mexicana 2010) and in United States (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2010), Vulnerable in Colombia (Rodriguez-Mahecha et al. 2006) and Argentina (Aprile et al. 2012). In Brazil, populations outside the Amazon are listed as Vulnerable (Machado et al. 2005).

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
At present the major threats for the species are habitat loss and fragmentation, retaliatory killing due to depredation of poultry and illegal trade of pets and pelts (Sunquist and Sunquiest 2002).The Ocelot has been described as being tolerant in some degree to habitat disturbs and persists in wooded patches near human settlements. However, Ocelot abundance is negatively affected by anthropogenic effects like poaching and logging (Di Bitetti et al. 2008). Although widespread commercial harvests for the fur trade ceased decades ago, some illegal trade still persists.
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Degree of Threat: A : Very threatened throughout its range communities directly exploited or their composition and structure irreversibly threatened by man-made forces, including exotic species

Comments: Clearing of brush for agricultural purposes has been a problem in the northern part of the range. Has declined throughout much of Central and South American range, due to hunting for fur (now curtailed compared to previous large harvests), predator control, and habitat loss.

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Management

Conservation Actions

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 and Tobago, 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.
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Biological Research Needs: Determine home range area and food habits.

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Global Protection: Unknown whether any occurrences are appropriately protected and managed

Needs: Protect suitable habitat from degradation. U.S.: continue, as needed, habitat restoration at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, Texas.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

In regions where natural prey abundances have been significantly reduced, ocelots may kill and eat domestic fowl.

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From the early 1960's to the mid 1980's, there was high demand for spotted-cat furs in Western society. During this time, a coat made of ocelot fur could sell for $40,000 (U.S.) in western Germany. Ocelots were also popular as exotic pets, costing as much as $800 per individual. After the 1975 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the international trade of ocelots and their by-products (e.g., fur) became illegal in most countries. However, one can still buy such items at the Managua International Airport in Nicaragua or illegally on the black market.

Ocelots may be beneficial to humans by controlling rodent populations that could be considered agricultural pests.

Positive Impacts: pet trade ; body parts are source of valuable material; controls pest population

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Economic Uses

Comments: Formerly intensively hunted for the skin trade, prior to recent restrictions on trade and changes in socially acceptable clothing styles. Reported to be much in demand for use as a pet, a live animal selling for $800 (Nowak 1991).

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Wikipedia

Ocelot

For other uses, see Ocelot (disambiguation).

The ocelot (/ˈɒsəlɒt/; Leopardus pardalis), also known as the dwarf leopard, is a wild cat distributed extensively over South America including the islands of Trinidad and Margarita, Central America, and Mexico. It has been reported as far north as Texas.[1][3] North of Mexico, it is found regularly only in the extreme southern part of Texas,[4] although there are rare sightings in southern Arizona.[5]

The ocelot is similar in appearance to a domestic cat. Its fur resembles that of a clouded leopard or jaguar and was once regarded as particularly valuable. As a result, hundreds of thousands of ocelots were once killed for their fur. The feline was classified a "vulnerable" endangered species from 1972 until 1996, and is now rated "least concern" by the 2008 IUCN Red List.

Etymology[edit]

The name ocelot comes from the Nahuatl word ōcēlōtl (pronounced /oːˈseːloːt͡ɬ/), which usually refers to the jaguar (Panthera onca) rather than the ocelot.[6][7][8]

Taxonomy[edit]

The ocelot's genus Leopardus consists of nine species similar to the ocelot, such as Geoffroy's cat and the margay, which are also endemic to South and Central America. All of the cats in Leopardus are spotted, lithe, and small, with the ocelot being the biggest.

Subspecies[edit]

The following are the currently recognized subspecies of ocelot:[1]

Certain ocelot subspecies are officially endangered, although the species as a whole is not.[citation needed]

Characteristics[edit]

Profile.

The ocelot ranges from 68 to 100 centimetres (27 to 39 in) in length, plus 26 to 45 centimeters (10 to 18 in) in tail length, and typically weighs 8 to 18 kilograms (18 to 40 lb), although much larger individuals have occasionally been recorded,[9][10][11] making it the largest of the Leopardus genus. It has sleek, smooth fur, rounded ears and relatively large front paws. While similar in appearance to the oncilla and margay, which inhabit the same region, the ocelot is larger.

The coat pattern of ocelots can vary, being anything from cream to reddish-brown in color, or sometimes grayish, and marked with black rosettes. In many individuals, some of the spots, especially on the back, blend together to form irregular curved stripes or bands. The fur is short, and paler than the rest of the coat beneath. There are also single white spots, called ocelli, on the backs of the ears. Two black stripes line both sides of the face, and the long tail is banded by black.

Ecology and behavior[edit]

Captive ocelot

The ocelot is mostly nocturnal and territorial. It will fight fiercely, sometimes to the death, in territorial disputes. In addition, the cat marks its territory with urine. Like most felines, it is solitary, usually meeting only to mate. However, during the day it rests in trees or other dense foliage, and occasionally shares its spot with another ocelot of the same sex. Males occupy territories of 3.5 to 46 square kilometers (1.4 to 17.8 sq mi), while females occupy smaller, non-overlapping territories of 0.8 to 15 square kilometers (0.31 to 5.79 sq mi). Territories are marked by urine spraying and by leaving feces in prominent locations, sometimes favoring particular latrine sites.[10]

Barro Colorado Island holds the highest ocelot density recorded: between 1.59-1.74 ocelots per km2 (0.62 mi2), probably due to high number of prey, artificial lake, increased protection from poaching, and lack of large predators, such as cougars and jaguars, though they temporarily visit the island.[12][13]

Ocelots hunt over a range of 18 km2 (6.9 sq mi), taking mostly small animals, including mammals, lizards, turtles, and frogs, crabs, birds, and fish.[14] Almost all of the prey that the ocelot hunts is far smaller than itself, with rodents, rabbits, and opossums forming the largest part of the diet.[10] Results of studies suggest that it follows and finds prey via odor trails, but the ocelot also has very good vision, including night vision.

Reproduction and life cycle[edit]

Ocelot

Ocelots mate at any time of year, but have litters only once every other year. The female may mate again shortly after losing a litter. When in estrus, she is sexually receptive for between seven to 10 days. After mating, she looks for a den in a cave in a rocky bluff, hollow tree, or a dense, preferably thorny, thicket. Gestation lasts 79 to 82 days, and usually results in the birth of a single kitten with closed eyes and a thin covering of hair. Litters of two or three kittens also occur, but are less common. The small litter size and relative infrequency of breeding make the ocelot particularly vulnerable to population loss.[10]

Compared with other small cats, ocelot kittens grow quite slowly. They weigh around 250 grams (8.8 oz) at birth, and do not open their eyes for 15 to 18 days. They begin to leave the den at three months, but remain with their mother for up to two years, before dispersing to establish their own territory. Ocelots live for up to 20 years in captivity.[10]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Moche Ocelot. 200 A.D. Larco Museum Collection Lima, Peru

The ocelot is distributed extensively over South America (including the islands of Margarita and Trinidad), Central America, and Mexico with a small population in southern Texas.[1][3][15][16] Countries in this range are: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, United States and Venezuela. The cat is likely extinct in Uruguay.[2]

Ocelots only inhabit areas with relatively dense vegetation cover, although they may occasionally hunt in more open areas at night. They are found in tropical forest, thorn forest, mangrove swamps and savanna, at elevations ranging up to 1,200 meters (3,900 ft).[10]

The ocelot once inhabited chaparral thickets of the Gulf Coast of south and eastern Texas, and could be found in Arizona, Louisiana, and Arkansas.[17] In the United States, it now ranges only in several small areas of dense thicket in South Texas and is rarely sighted in Arizona. On November 7, 2009, an ocelot was photographed in the mountains of Cochise County, Arizona. This was the first such verifiable evidence of the feline's presence in the state.[18] In February 2011, the Arizona Game and Fish Department confirmed the sighting of another ocelot in the Huachuca Mountains of southern Arizona.[19] Most surviving Texas ocelots are in the shrublands remaining at or near the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge near Brownsville, where only 30-35 animals remain.[20]

Threats[edit]

The remnant U.S. ocelot population in south Texas has declined from 80-120 individuals in 1995 to less than 50 in recent years, with about half of ocelot deaths resulting from automobile accidents.[21][22]

In Trinidad, habitat fragmentation, as well as direct exploitation via illegal poaching are major threats to the survival of the remnant populations of ocelots on the island. No empirical studies have been conducted to reliably estimate population status on the island. Historical records indicate that the species once existed on the island of Tobago, but it has long been extirpated there.[citation needed]

As pets[edit]

Salvador Dalí and Babou the ocelot

Like many wild cats, ocelots are occasionally kept as pets. Salvador Dalí frequently traveled with his pet ocelot Babou,[23] even bringing it aboard the luxury ocean liner SS France.[24]

Musician Gram Parsons kept an ocelot as a pet in the back yard swimming pool area of his family's Winter Haven, Florida, home, during his teens, in the mid-1960s.[25]

The Moche people of ancient Peru worshipped animals and often depicted the ocelot in their art.[26]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 538. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ a b Caso, A., Lopez-Gonzalez, C., Payan, E., Eizirik, E., de Oliveira, T., Leite-Pitman, R., Kelly, M. & Valderrama, C. (2008). Leopardus pardalis. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 22 March 2009. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
  3. ^ a b Ocelot. The Animal Files. Retrieved on 2012-04-10.
  4. ^ "The Nature Conservancy in Texas – Mammals – Ocelot". nature.org. 
  5. ^ "North American Mammals – Carnivora – Felidae – Leopardus pardalis". Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 2010-02-23. 
  6. ^ "ocelot, n.". Oxford English Dictionary. 2004. 
  7. ^ Karttunen, Frances (1983). An Analytical Dictionary of Nahuatl. Austin: University of Texas Press. p. 176. 
  8. ^ Lockhart, James (2001). Nahuatl as Written: Lessons in Older Written Nahuatl, with Copious Examples and Texts. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. p. 228. 
  9. ^ Burnie, D.; D. E. Wilson (2001). Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife. New York City: Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 0-7894-7764-5. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f Sunquist, M.; Sunquist, F. (2002). Wild cats of the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 120–129. ISBN 0-226-77999-8. 
  11. ^ 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 (4): 808–816. doi:10.1644/05-MAMM-A-360R2.1. 
  12. ^ "Comparison of noninvasive genetics and camera trapping for estimating population density of ocelots (Leopardus pardalis) on Barro Colorado Island, Panama". Tropical Conservation Science 7(4): 690–705. 19 August 2014. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  13. ^ Hance, Jeremy (December 18, 2014). "Ocelots live in super densities on Barro Colorado Island". Retrieved March 2015. 
  14. ^ Briggs, M.; P. Briggs (2006). The Encyclopedia of World Wildlife. Parragon Books. ISBN 978-1-4054-3679-3. 
  15. ^ Trinidad. Paria Springs. Retrieved on 2011-09-15.
  16. ^ "News Release, March 2014 - Laguna Atascosa - U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service". Fws.gov. Retrieved 2014-04-21. 
  17. ^ Mammals: Ocelot The San Diego Zoo
  18. ^ "Rare ocelot photographed in southern Arizona". Associated Press. 17 April 2010. 
  19. ^ "Rare ocelot observed in southern Arizona". Arizona Game and Fish Department. 9 February 2011. 
  20. ^ "Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis)". Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  21. ^ Ocelot (Report). Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  22. ^ Steve Sinclair (2013-10-10). "Current Sightings: Plight of the ocelot: Endangered cat’s future uncertain". The Coastal Current. Retrieved 2013-10-18. 
  23. ^ Dali with Capitain Moore and Ocelot – Vintage photo. Ecademy.com. Retrieved on 2011-09-15.
  24. ^ Huggler, Justin. "Chic ship too toxic for scrapping". ssMaritime.com. Archived from the original on 2007-02-21. 
  25. ^ "Return of the grievous angel: New bio of Gram Parsons offers tragic insights". Austin American Statesman. Retrieved 2009-11-02. [dead link]
  26. ^ Museo Arqueologico Rafael Larco Herrera (1997). Katherine Berrin, ed. The Spirit of Ancient Peru: Treasures from the Museo Arqueologico Rafael Larco Herrera. New York City: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 978-0-500-01802-6. 

External links[edit]

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Formerly included in the genus FELIS. Included in the genus LEOPARDUS by Wozencraft (in Wilson and Reeder 1993), Murray and Gardner (1997), and Jones et al. (1997).

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