Margay

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Margay[1]
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Genus: Leopardus
Species: L. wiedii
Binomial name
Leopardus wiedii
(Schinz, 1821)
Margay range
Synonyms
  • Felis wiedii
The Margay

The Margay (Leopardus wiedii) is a spotted cat native to the Americas.[3] It is a solitary and nocturnal animal which prefers remote parts of the rainforest.

Life-style[change | change source]

The margay is mostly nocturnal.[4] It eats small mammals (sometimes including monkeys), birds, eggs, lizards and tree frogs.[5] The margay is able to hunt its prey entirely in trees.[6] However, they do sometimes hunt on the ground, and have been reported to eat cane rats and guinea pigs.[7]

There is a report of a margay using sound mimicry to lure a prey. A margay was seen to imitate the call of an infant pied tamarin while in the presence of a group of adult tamarins. This caused the adults to investigate. Although the margay was not successful in catching a monkey, this was the first observation of a Neotropical predator using this type of mimicry.[8][9]

Margays are mainly nocturnal, but they do sometimes hunt during the day. They prefer to spend most of their life in the trees, but also travel across the ground, especially when moving between hunting areas. During the day, they rest in safe branches or clumps of lianas.

Like most cats, they are solitary: the adults usually meet only to mate. They have large home ranges of 11 to 16 square kilometres (4.2 to 6.2 sq mi). They use scent to mark their territory (urine spraying) and leave scratch marks on the ground or on branches. Their vocalisations are short range: they do not call to each other over long distances.[7]

Special adaptations[change | change source]

The margay is one of only two cat species with ankles flexible enough to climb head-first down trees.[7] The other is the clouded leopard; the little-studied marbled cat may also have this ability.

The margay is very agile; its ankles can turn up to 180 degrees,[10] it can grasp branches equally well with its fore and hind paws, and it is able to jump up to 12 feet (3.7 m) horizontally.[7] The margay has been seen to hang from branches with only one foot, and can run upside down beneath branches.[10]

Conservation[change | change source]

Although once thought to be vulnerable to extinction, the IUCN now lists it as only "near threatened".[2] It roams the rainforests from Mexico to Argentina. Actually, it is a successful and widespread species. It has ten subspecies over a large geographical range from Mexico to Argentina. Its past range even included the southern United States.[11]

They are hunted mainly for their fur and this has resulted in a large population decrease - around 14,000 are killed a year. They also suffer from a loss of habitat, which is also a significant part of this decline.[12]

References[change | change source]

  1. Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 539–540. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0 . OCLC 62265494 . http://www.bucknell.edu/msw3/browse.asp?id=14000119.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Payan E. et al (2008). Leopardus wiedii. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2008. Retrieved on 6 March 2009. Database entry includes justification for why this species is near threatened
  3. "Leopardus wiedii, common name: Margay". http://faculty.evansville.edu/ck6/bstud/margay.html. Retrieved 2007-04-15.
  4. Anywhere Costa Rica
  5. 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 (3): 207–212. doi:10.1076/snfe.37.3.207.8564 . http://taylorandfrancis.metapress.com/index/FN1FYN6WTTEKT95X.pdf. Retrieved 2007-06-15.
  6. Solórzano-filho, J.A. (2006). "Mobbing of Leopardus wiedii while hunting by a group of Sciurus ingrami in an Araucaria forest of Southeast Brazil". Mammalia 70 (1/2): 156–157. doi:10.1515/MAMM.2006.031 . http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/mamm.2006.70.issue-1_2/mamm.2006.031/mamm.2006.031.xml. Retrieved 2007-06-15.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Sunquist, Mel & Sunquist, Fiona 2002. Wild cats of the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 135–141. ISBN 0-226-77999-8
  8. Calleia F.O. Rohe F. & Gordo M. (2009). "Hunting strategy of the Margay (Leopardus wiedii) to attract the wild Pied Tamarin (Saguinus bicolor)". Neotropical Primates 16 (1): 32–34. doi:10.1896/044.016.0107 . ISSN 1413-4705 . http://www.primate-sg.org/PDF/NP16.1.pdf. Retrieved 2010-07-18.
  9. Dell'Amore, Christine (2010). "Jungle Cat mimics monkey to lure prey — a first". National Geographic Daily News. National Geographic Society. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/07/100712-cats-mimics-monkeys-prey-science/. Retrieved 2010-07-18.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Garman, Andrew 1997. Margay
  11. Kays, Roland W.; Wilson, Don E. (2002). Mammals of North America. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-07012-1 .
  12. IUNC Wild Cats Book. "Margay facts. Big Cat Rescue. IUNC, n.d. Web. [1].