Leopardus pardalis, also known as the dwarf leopard, is a small wild cat found in southern North America, Central and South America. Mostly crepuscular and nocturnal in behavior, the ocelot is difficult to observe in the wild due to its active periods and arboreal nature.
Widely distributed from the southern United States and Mexico through Central and South America, the ocelot is found in every country except Chile. In the United States it has been observed in Arizona and the southern tip of Texas. Threats to the species are mainly habitat loss and fragmentation, retaliatory killing due to depredation of poultry, and the illegal fur trade. Other human activity like poaching and logging have negative impacts on ocelot populations as well.
Ocelots occupy a wide range of ecological habitats, ranging from scrublands to tropical rain forests—typically with well structured vegetation cover. Ocelots have been recorded in mangrove forests, coastal marshes, savanna grasslands, thorn scrubs, and tropical and subtropical forest. The species typically occurs at elevations below 3,000 meters but there are occasional reports of the species at up to 3,000 meters.
The ocelot is a solitary cat and does not live in groups, though some social interaction is possible outside of mating behavior. Territorial ranges vary by gender and are typically between 0.8 to 46 kilometers, with females occupying much smaller ranges than males.
Prey typically consists of small mammals, such as rabbits and other small rodents as well as small birds, fish, insects and reptiles. Ocelot also prey on some larger sized animals, such as agoutis, armadillo, opossums, pacas, and monkeys, that in some areas can constitute the most important items of its diet. According to some studies, primates prevail in the diet of ocelots in southeastern Brazil, and iguanas are the main prey of Mexican ocelots.
Très was already elderly when she arrived at the Center in 2009, and she can best be described as a rather stereotypical grumpy old lady…stubborn, set in her ways, and just a bit cantankerous. She has strong—and virtually instantaneous—opinions about just about everything, and she sees no reason to keep her thoughts to herself. As a result, it took Très only a few weeks after her arrival in 2009 to train us to provide attention, enrichment, and her favorite foods on command. While Très is shy around most groups and usually chooses to disappear into her den box during tours, she relishes visits from people she knows…assuming they come bearing gifts, like a treat of just the right brand of canned cat food on a spoon!