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Margay (Leopardus wiedii)

  • Margay (Leopardus wiedii)

    Common Name/s: Margay  
    Scientific name: Leopardus wiedii
    Brazilian common name/s: Gato-maracajá, Gato-peludo

    Quick facts (average values with minimum and maximum in parenthesis)

    Body length (cm): 55 (47-72) a Tail (cm):  39 (30-49) a Diet: Carnivorous
    Weight (kg): 3 (2-5) a Height (cm):  Home range (km2): (1-20)b
    Litter size: 1(1-2) a Gestation (days): 81-84 a 
    Longevity (years): 20 (max) a
    Social structure: Solitary
    Activity pattern: Nocturnal crepuscular, and diurnal

    a (Payan et al. 2008); b (de Oliveira 1998)
    Physical description
    Margays have a spotted coat that is very similar to that of the Ocelot and Ocilla, with dark rosettes on a yellow-gold background arranged mainly on the sides of the body. The rosettes on the back may merge into stripes that go from the top of the eyes to the base of the tail. The ankles of their hind legs can rotate 180 degrees, which gives them the rare ability to descend head first from trees, like squirrels. This adaptation combined with a long tail gives Margays have an exceptional arboreal ability and they spend most of their time above the ground in forest trees.

    Habitat and Ecology
    They have a wide distribution that extends from northern Mexico to Uruguay and northern Argentina. However they are nowhere common and are dependent on closed canopy forest habitats (Payan et al. 2008).
    It is a little studied animal with limited information about their ecology and social characteristics. Studies have shown mainly nocturnal habits.
    They eat a variety of vertebrate prey (mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians) however the main items in their diet are small arboreal rodents, followed by small birds (Rocha-Mendes & Bianconi 2009; Wang 2002; de Oliveira 1998).

    Threats and Conservation
    The destruction of forests is the main threat to this species (Payan et al. 2008). In addition, little is known about the biology of this species, which limits the ability to generate effective conservation strategies. It is classified by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as “Near Threatened” and by IBAMA, as threatened with extinction.

    Online links
    IUCN redlist ( presents a summary of current knowledge on distribution and conservation status

    IUCN Cat Specialist Group:

    IUCN Cat Specialist Group species accounts:

    Payan, E., Eizirik, E., de Oliveira, T. G., Leite-Pitman, R., Kelly, M., & Valderrama, C. (2008). Leopardus wiedii. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.2. <>, , Downloaded on 06 July 2010.

    Rocha-Mendes, F., & Bianconi, G. V. (2009). Opportunistic predatory behavior of margay, Leopardus wiedii (Schinz, 1821), in Brazil. Mammalia, 73, 151-152.

    Wang, E. (2002). Diets of ocelots (Leopardus pardalis), margays (L-wiedii), and oncillas (L-tigrinus) in the Atlantic rainforest in southeast Brazil. Studies on Neotropical Fauna and Environment, 37, 207-212.

    de Oliveira, T. G. (1998). Leopardus wiedii. Mammalian Species, 579, 1-6.


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