The amazingly agile Margay (Leopardus wiedii) occupies the dense forests of Latin America. Due to their flexible joints and long tail the Margay navigates the tree tops almost like a monkey. Similar in markings to the Ocelot, the Margay was once heavily exploited for the fur trade, but more recently deforestation of its primary habitat has become the biggest threat to this cat's survival.
4. Margay (Leopardus wiedii) - Leopardus Lineage
Margay cat (Leopardus wiedii) by Malene Thyssen (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

Key Facts about Margays

~ Aboreal cat of Latin American forests ~

~  Hind feet can rotate 180° ~

~ Slow reproductive rate ~

Margay (Leopardus wiedii) Classification

The Margay belongs to the genus Leopardus and the full taxonomy, scientific classification or higher classification of the Margay species (Leopardus wiedii) is as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia (animals)

Phylum: Chordata (vertebrates)

Class: Mammalia (mammals)

Order: Carnivora (carnivores)

Suborder: Feliformia (cat-like)

Family: Felidae (cats)

Subfamily: Felinae (small cats)

Genus: Leopardus

Species: Leopardus wiedii (Margay)

Margay in a tree

Margay (Leopardus wiedii) Subspecies (lower classification)

Margay resting in a tree

Eleven subspecies of Margays have been described in the past:

  • Leopardus wiedii wiedii - south Brazil, south Colombia
  • Leopardus wiedii amazonicus - Amazonas Brazil
  • Leopardus wiedii boliviae - Bolivia, north Argentina
  • Leopardus wiedii pirrensis - Panama
  • Leopardus wiedii vigens - lower Amazon Brazil, Guianas
  • Leopardus wiedii glauculus - Mexico
  • Leopardus wiedii nicaraguae - Nicaragua
  • Leopardus wiedii oaxacensis - Oaxaca mountains Mexico
  • Leopardus wiedii salvinia - Guatemala, Belize
  • Leopardus wiedii yucatanicus - Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
  • Leopardus wiedii cooperi - Texas USA, north-east Mexico

However the current Felidae taxonomy revision based on recent genetic studies proposes three subspecies pending further research:

  • Leopardus wiedii wiedii - South America south of the Amazon
  • Leopardus wiedii vigens - South America north of the Amazon
  • Leopardus wiedii glauculus - Central America

Margay Conservation & Research

The global conservation status for the Margay is Near Threatened (NT) and populations are declining.

The following organizations are dedicated to research and conservation of the smaller cats of Latin America:

Please support these organizations with their important work. No matter how small or large your donation, every bit helps!

Margay resting on a branch

Margay grooming by Mark Payne-Gill

Margay Facts and Information

The following websites have well researched and authoritative information on Margays:

Books on Neotropical Cats 

Currently there is no publication in print dedicated to just the cats of Central and South America.

A book entitled Neotropical Cats by TG de Oliviera was published in 1994 however is no longer in print, and may be available in libraries or in used book stores.

The latest information on these cats can be found in books covering all wild cats such as those shown below.

Neotropical Cats by TG de Oliveira 1994
Neotropical Cats by TG de Oliveira (1994) - Out of Print
Try AbeBooks ~ Book Review 1996

Wild Cats of the World - Luke Hunter 2015

Wild Cats of the World

by Luke Hunter 2015

(general and academic interest)

Amazon US (incl Kindle)

AbeBooks global

The Wild Cat Book - Sunquist 2014

The Wild Cat Book

by Fiona and Mel Sunquist 2014

(general interest)

Amazon US (incl Kindle)

AbeBooks global

Small Wild Cats - Sanderson and Watson 2011

Small Wild Cats

by J. Sanderson and P. Watson 2011

(general interest)

Amazon US (incl Kindle)

AbeBooks global