Critter of the Week: Margay



Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Suborder: Feliformia

Family: Felidae

Genus: Leopardus

Species: L. wiedii


The margay is a small cat that can be found in various forests in Central and South America. They weigh around 5-11 pounds and can be between 18-30 inches long. One of their most defining features is their incredibly long tail that, at around 20 inches long, is well over half of its body length.



The margay’s cute, large eyes allow them to see clearly at night as they are nocturnal and hunt in the dark. Their long tails are used for balance as they spend almost their whole lives in the trees. In fact, their specialized paws and nails allow the margay to hang from a branch by using only one paw!




Unlike majority of cats, the margay can climb down trees head first. It is able to accomplish this because of its flexible ankles, which can rotate 180 degrees! The margay will spend most of its time in the trees, earning it the nickname “tree ocelot”; however, the margay will still hunt and travel on the ground occasionally.





The margay hunts small prey such as opossums, squirrels, frogs, birds, etc. They will also eat vegetation and fruit to help their digestion. Being able to jump up to 12 feet with ease, combined with their impressive climbing abilities, the margay are able to hunt solely in the trees!





Female margays are pregnant for 2-3 months, after which they will give birth to usually one kitten. The kittens are kept in dens in hollow trees or in little underground burrows. Their eyes will open after two weeks and will begin to leave the den at five weeks. The kittens will be able to eat meat like its parents after only two months!