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Jungle Cats » Margay

Margay-Tree Ocelot-Little Ocelot-Long Tailed Spotted Cat

English Common Name: 
Margay, Tree Ocelot, Little Ocelot, Long Tailed Spotted Cat.

Spanish Common Names:  Caucel, Tigrillo, Gato de Monte.

Scientific Name:  Leopardus wiedii .

Survival Status:   Although it was once listed as “Vulnerable” to extinction by the IUCN, they have downgraded their status to “Near Threatened”. Of the six species of wild cats in Central America this species is more threatened than the Ocelot, Puma and Jaguarundi, the same as the Jaguar,  but not as threatened as the tiny Oncilla which rates a “Vulnerable” status.  Because the Margay is completely arboreal (lives in trees) it is much more susceptible to habitat destruction than those cats that can live in variable habitats.

The IUCN Conservation status order is as follows:  1) Least Concern 2) Near Threatened 3) Vulnerable 4) Endangered 5) Critically Endangered 6) Extinct in the Wild 7) Extinct.

Characteristics:  The Margay can weigh 6-20 lbs. (2 to 9 kg), have a body length of 18-32 inches (45 to 80 cm)  and a tail length of 13 to 20 inches (33 to 51 cm).

Margays are exclusively arboreal (they live in trees).  They are so difficult for scientists to study in their natural habitat of the isolated and dense forest canopy that there exists varying opinions on their characteristics and behaviors in the wild. They are very averse to any human intrusion into their natural territory and will leave an area rapidly at the slightest invasion.  Some scientists believe they are completely nocturnal due more to the physical characteristics of their eyes, while other scientists say they have observed daytime activity in the wild.  Most scientists will agree that they are nocturnal but more diurnal (active during the day) than their relative the Ocelot.  The Ocelot, Margay and Oncilla have 36 chromosomes and are far more closely related to each other than to the Jaguar, Puma and Jaguarundi who have 38 chromosomes.

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