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Margay Leopardus wiedii (Schinz, 1821)
Near Threatened
Sometimes called the long-tailed spotted cat, the name margay is an anglicised version of “marguey” which translates as “tiger cat”. It is also referred to as the little or tree ocelot. There is potentially a great deal of confusion between the colloquial names of the small spotted Latin American felids. Schinz named the margay in honour of the Prince of Wied.

The margay is the about the same size as a domestic cat and the jaguarundi, which is found in the same regions.

Slightly larger than the oncilla, the margay has a much longer tail and is rather more blotched than spotted, but otherwise is extremely similar.

Margays are smaller and more slightly built than ocelots, but their colourings and markings are very alike. They stand relatively higher and have a relatively longer tail than the larger cat. F. (L.) w. pirrensis has a tail 10 cm longer than the local ocelot subspecies.

The skull of the margay is rather small and distinctly rounded. Anterior upper premolars are present.

One of the most remarkable characteristics of the margay is the exceptionally flexible ankle joint. It can supinate through 180° enabling the margay, unlike most cats, to run head first down a tree. This is quite evidently an important adaptation for a tree-dwelling animal. They can grasp branches equally well with their fore and hind paws, and are able to jump considerable distances. Margays have been observed to hang from branches with only one foot.

The coat of the margay is thick and soft, yellowish brown white on the belly, chest, throat, chin and the insides of the limbs. Markings on the body are dark brown longitudinal rows of blotches, the centres of each spot are paler but darker than the ground colour. The backs of the ears are black with white central spots. Margay’s tails are spotted and ringed. No melanistic individuals have been recorded. Margays which live in mountainous regions tend to be more heavily marked and thicker furred than the lowland animals.
Long considered to be a member of the genus Felis, the margay, in the latest review of cat taxonomy, has been placed with its closest relatives in the genus Leopardus (Wozencraft 1993). These three species (margay, L. wiedi, ocelot, L. pardalis and oncilla, L. tigrina) have 36 chromosomes, most other cats have 38.

Principal Dimensions
Overall Males Females
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