The Margay (Leopardus wiedii) is a spotted cat native to Central and South America. Named for Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied, it is a solitary and nocturnal animal that prefers remote sections of the rainforest. Although it was once believed to be vulnerable to extinction, the IUCN now lists it as "Near Threatened". It roams the rainforests from Mexico to Argentina.
The Margay can weigh about 2 to 9 kg (6.620 lbs), have a body length of 45 to 80 cm (18 to 32 in) and a tail length of 33 to 51 cm (13 to 20 in). It is very similar to the larger Ocelot, although the head is a bit shorter, the tail and legs are longer, and the spotted pattern on the tail is different. Most notably the Margay is a much more skillful climber than its relative, and it is sometimes called the Tree Ocelot because of this skill. Whereas the Ocelot mostly pursues prey on the ground, the Margay may spend its entire life in the trees, leaping after and chasing birds and monkeys through the treetops. Indeed, it is one of only two cat species with the ankle flexibility necessary to climb head-first down trees (the other being the Clouded Leopard). Its ankles can turn up to 180 degrees, it can grasp branches equally well with its fore and hind paws, and it is able to jump considerable distances. The Margay has been observed to hang from branches with only one foot. The Margay is considered to be the true jungle cat, because it spends almost its entire life in trees.
Because the Margay is naturally rare in its environment, most of its dietary studies were based on stomach contents and fecal analysis. This cat eats small mammals (sometimes monkeys), birds, eggs, lizards and tree frogs. It may also eat grass and other vegetation, most likely to help digestion. A recent report about a Margay chasing squirrels in its natural environment confirmed that the Margay is able to hunt its prey entirely in trees.
These are the currently recognized subspecies:
Leopardus wiedii wiedii, eastern and central Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, northern Argentina
Leopardus wiedii amazonicus, western Brazil, inner parts of Peru, Colombia and Venezuela
Leopardus wiedii boliviae, Bolivia - also known as the "Ocelittle".
Leopardus wiedii cooperi, northern Mexico
Leopardus wiedii glauculus, central Mexico
Leopardus wiedii nicaraguae, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica
Leopardus wiedii oaxacensis, southern Mexico
Leopardus wiedii pirrensis, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru
Leopardus wiedii salvinius, Chiapas, Guatemala, El Salvador
Leopardus wiedii yucatanicus, Yucatan
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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Margay