- Leopardus wiediiBy: C.M.Shorter
This medium sized Wild Cat is very reclusive
and avoids areas of human disturbance much like the Kodkod who
resides to the south of them in the countries of Chile and Argentina.
Margays are totally restricted to the dense forest habitat of Central
and South America with the northernmost portion of their range
in Mexico. They are found in humid areas of tropical evergreens,
deciduous forests, cloud forests, swamp savannahs and montane timberline
areas made of large coniferous trees. The Margay occasionally will
take up residence on local coffee and cocoa plantations if provided
cover of large trees.
is perhaps the truest Jungle
on cover of the treetop canopy throughout its Central
and South American range. This medium size cat shares
territory with the Ocelot
but is much more arboreal.
The Margay has unique physical features for surviving
forested habitat. Their feet are exceptionally broad
with mobile toes and flexible ankles allowing them to
rotate 180º making them very efficient hunters and
effective at moving about from tree to tree. Margays
are quite capable of climbing down a tree head first.
When moving about the tree canopy, should they fall,
they can stop the fall by grasping onto limbs with their
hind feet setting themselves upright. They are exceptionally
agile climbers and excellent jumpers. Captive individuals
have been reported to make leaps in excess of 18 feet
vertically and over 28 feet horizontally, which rivals
for athletic ability as shown in our TigerHomes
DVD: Power Cats "Locked and Loaded".
The Margay has a beautiful soft coat, longer
than that of the other South American Wild Cats, usually brownish
yellow to tan in color. The coat is marked with black spots and
carries blotches of dark rosette patterns with those markings
revealing lighter centers of the base coat color. Facial markings
are distinguished with two dark stripes running from the inside
corner of each eye across the muzzle and a horizontal stripe
extending over the forehead. Mouth, legs and undersides are a
snow white in color.
As is true with many arboreal mammals, like the Jaguar these
members of the felid family have long tails sometimes comprising
as much as 70% of their body length. These extremely long tails
serve as rudders for balance are used to help navigate. Primarily
active at night, they have very large rounded nocturnal
eyes with vision far superior to that of a human to help them hunt
effectively. Prey consists of small tree dwelling rodents, opossums,
squirrels, sloths, monkeys, porcupines, birds, insects and occasionally
fruit which is eaten primarily for moisture content.
Little is known about their social structure in the wild and
the Margay does not adapt well to captive environments with more
than a 50% infant mortality rate. The Margay is one of the most
hunted cats in the world like the Jaguar, Snow
Cat and Ocelot for their beautiful coats. Even though protected
throughout most of their range, with the exceptions of Ecuador,
Guyana and El Salvador, it is said the Margay is the most common
pelt found in the illegal markets, particularly in Mexico. Combination
of three factors: over-hunting for the fur trade, capture for
the pet market and massive deforestation have put the Margay
at great risk so much so this little Wild Cat, never common and
becoming increasingly rare, has now become an Endangered Species
being listed on CITES Appendix I.
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Scientific Name: Leopardus wiedii
Common Name(s): Margay, Tree Ocelot, Long Tailed Cat
Range: Central and South American, parts of Mexico
Average Weight: 3 - 9kg (9 - 20 lbs)
Length: 86 - 130 cm (34 - 52")
Diet: Carnivorous. Small tree dwelling rodents, opossums, squirrels,
sloths, monkeys, porcupines, birds, insects and occasionally
fruit for moisture content.
Gestation Period: 76 - 85 Days
Cub Maturity: 10 - 12 Months
Cubs Per Litter: Only 1 Kitten born per year.
Lifespan: 12 - 14 Years in the Wild. Captive individuals have
been recorded to live up to 18 years.
Predators: Man. Major Threat: Deforestation.
Social Structure: Solitary except for breeding.
Territory Size: Smaller territory, primarily arboreal with territories
of 12 - 16km (7 - 9 miles)
Conservation Status: Placed on CITES Appendix I.