Ocelots (Leopardus pardalis, formerly Felis pardalis) are found here in Pima County, Arizona, but they are very rare and endangered. Even where they are more common, Ocelots are not often seen because they are extremely shy, mainly nocturnal, and usually found in areas of dense cover. Since I am unlikely to ever see one of these beautiful cats in the wild here, much less photograph one, I photographed this captive Ocelot at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum here in Tucson.

Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis, formerly Felis pardalis) at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Here in the Sonoran Desert, Ocelots favor areas of dense desert scrub, where their spotted coats make them very difficult to see in the dappled shade under patches of dense shrubbery.

Ocelots range from the southwestern United States through Central and South America to Argentina. Here in the U.S., they are the most common in southern Texas. Ocelots occupy a wide range of diverse habitats over this whole area, from desert to jungle, but whatever the habitat, these secretive cats require dense cover and avoid open areas.

Ocelots are not very large and only weigh between 18 to 26 pounds (8 to 12 kg). In this region, they mainly hunt rats, mice, rabbits, and birds. Ocelots are solitary and generally occupy a territory of 4.2 to 6.9 square miles (11 to 18 square kilometers).