Genus: Leopardus (Total members of this genus: Pampas cat, Geoffrey’s cat, Guinea cat, Andean Mountain cat, Ocelot, Little Spotted cat, Margay cat)
Species: Leopardus pardalis
L.p.aequatorialis – Northern Andes
L.p.albescens – Texas, Mexico
L.p.maripensis – Venezuela to Guiana
L.p.mitis – S.Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina
L.p.pseudopardalis – Columbia, Venzuela
L.p.pusaeus – Ecuador
L.p.sonoriensis – Arizona, Mexico
L.p.steinbachi – Bolivia
The ocelot is the largest of the Leopardus genus. It lives all over South America with some populations in Central America, the islands of Trinidad and Margarita, plus Mexico, and even a few in Texas and Arizona. The ocelot is also known as the dwarf leopard and is 68 to 100 cm in length not counting the tail (27 to 39 in). It typically weighs 8 to 18 kg (18 to 40 lb), although much larger individuals have occasionally been recorded. Its fur is gorgeous and resembles a clouded leopard’s and it was once hunted almost to its peril.
The health of an ecosystem can in part be judged by how well its predators are doing – especially apex predators (guys at the very top of the food chain). Ocelots are a top predator and since they are thriving, it bodes very well for all the other inhabitants of the jungles and chaparral that it inhabits (ocelots can be found intropical forest, thorn forest, mangrove swamps and savanna, at elevations ranging up to 1,200 meters (3,900 ft). Ocelots can live up to 7-10 years in the wild and up to 20 in captivity.
The ocelot is extremely fierce about guarding its territory and has been known to fight to the death to defend it. It’s a solitary creature and like many cats delineates its territory by spraying urine. It will also use communal latrines on occasion (public toilets for other ocelots).
*Note. Animals with communal latrines include racoons, Eurasian Badgers, elephants, deer, antelopes, and horses.
The Ocelot was classified Vulnerable by IUCN from 1972 until 1996, and as of 2015 is listed Least Concern- conservation efforts worked!! They still require protections though, and some sub populations are threatened.