Leopardus wiedii

Quick Bio for Margays:

Status: Near Threatened
have 2 kittens on aveage
Weight: 3-4 kg
Diet: Carnivore

Physical description of Margays

Margays are small cats. Spotted and looking quite like the ocelot, they are hard to tell apart. In fact, in German, they are called the Baumozelot, which literally translates to the tree ocelot. Their spots are generally in rows along the body, and their fur is tan or sometimes reddish brown. The stomach is white. Despite living in the warm forests of the tropics, the margay’s fur is quite thick.

Distribution and habitat of Margays

The Margay is found in the Americas, from Argentina through to Mexico, from the subtropical forests of the north of Argentina through the jungles of the Amazon and Central America.

Margays are almost exclusively found in forests. Both tropical and subtropical.

The Margay (Leopardus wiedii) roams the jungles of the Americas, with this one captured on camera in Belize.
Licensed from Shutterstock
The Margay (Leopardus wiedii) roams the jungles of the Americas, with this one captured on camera in Belize.

Margay behaviour

The distinctive feature of the margay is its ability to climb trees. While all cats are capable of climbing, there is a very meaningful line in the Winnie the Pooh books: “Tigger never said Tiggers know how to get down again.” This certainly does not apply to margays, who are capable of walking down trees facing forward due to a very flexible ankle. In fact, their rear feet can turn 180 degrees, allowing them to grip trunks and making them the most agile of the cat family when high up in trees.

It seems that margays are equally active during the day and night, but again, it is hard to tell when they are so difficult to find in the deep jungle. They are asocial and only hang out during breeding season. Once more, it is difficult to be sure that this is always the case.

What do Margays eat?

Margays eat almost anything, including small mammals, birds and their eggs, and pretty much anything else that comes available.

Mating and Parental care of Margays

Unfortunately, this forest dweller is pretty difficult to study in the wild as the margay remains well hidden in its forests. Because of this, a lot is unknown. It seems that margays breed once a year and have a litter of one or two kittens.

A caring Margay (Leopardus wiedii) mother carries her precious cub to a new, secure den, making sure the littel one is safe.
Licensed from Shutterstock
A caring Margay (Leopardus wiedii) mother carries her precious cub to a new, secure den, making sure the littel one is safe.

Impact of Margays on the human economy

Margays don’t have any economic importance to humans apart from their role in the ecosystem.

There are no negatives to humans in having margays around, but they might prey on small livestock or poultry.

Conservation status and human impact on Margays

Margays are rare everywhere. Considering lots were killed for fur in the past, and ongoing deforestation causing habitat loss, they are endangered. Most hunting is now limited within their range, but deforestation still occurs.

Other important information about Margays

The margay has multiple local names throughout its extensive range.

Margay in French, German, Spanish ...

Latin Name
Leopardus wiedii
Alternative Names
Tree Ocelot
French Names
Margay, Chat Tigre
German Names
Margay, Baumozelot
Spanish Names
Margay, Caucel, Gato Montés, Gato Pintado, Tigrillo
Swahili Names
Marakaya

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