Margay (Leopardus wiedii) - Leopardus Lineage
Margay cat (Leopardus wiedii) by Malene Thyssen (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Wikimedia Commons

The amazingly agile Margay (Leopardus wiedii) is a small wild cat that occupies the dense forests of Latin America, also known as a tree ocelot.

This cat is primarily arboreal and adaptations such as flexible joints and a long tail enable the Margay to navigate 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.


2023 - Margays in the News / Podcasts / Where to See Margays

Leopardus Lineage

1. Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis)

2. Geoffroy’s Cat (Leopardus geoffroyi)

3. Andean Cat (Leopardus jacobita)

4. Margay (Leopardus wiedii)

5. Pampas Cat (Leopardus colocola)

6. Northern Tiger Cat (Leopardus tigrinus)

7. Southern Tiger Cat (Leopardus guttulus)

8. Guiña or Kodkod (Leopardus guigna)

Key Facts about Margays

~ Arboreal cat of Latin American forests ~

~  Hind feet can rotate 180° ~

~ Slow reproductive rate ~

Margay (Leopardus wiedii) Classification

The Margay cat belongs to the genus Leopardus and the full taxonomy or scientific classification of the Margay species is:

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)


L.w. wiedii

L.w. vigens

L.w. glauculus

The scientific name for the Margay cat is Leopardus wiedii which is also known as the binomial name, species name, latin name, biological name or zoological name. Some use the term 'botanical name' however that term is only applicable to the plant kingdom (botany) and not the animal kingdom (zoology).

Classification Chart

This Margay classification chart shows where this cat fits into the Felidae family and in particular the Leopardus genus.

Margay Classification Chart
Click chart to download.
Permission to use for personal or educational use.

Margay (Leopardus wiedii) Subspecies

Up to 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 last Felidae taxonomy revision in 2017 based on genetic studies proposed three subspecies, pending further research:

  • Southern Margay (Leopardus wiedii wiedii) - South America south of the Amazon
  • Central Margay (Leopardus wiedii vigens) - South America north of the Amazon
  • Northern Margay / Central American Margay (Leopardus wiedii glauculus) - Central America

Margay Conservation

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:

Ocelot Working Group - Ocelot, Margay and Jaguarundi Conservation

Belize Wild Cats - Wild Cat Conservation Belize


Wild Cats Americas (WCA) - Small Wild Cats of the Americas

Small Wild Cat Conservation Foundation (SWCCF)  - Global

Small wild cat working groups of the Neotropics: results of the first group leaders meeting.

Please support these organizations with their important work if you can. No matter the size of your contribution, every bit helps!

Margay Facts and Information

These organizations have well researched and authoritative information on Margays:

If you find this website useful, please consider a small contribution of $5 so I can continue to keep it updated. Thank you, Mandy 🙂

Margay Research

Here are some papers published on Margays. Click on the title bar to view the abstract and the link to the article.

View more articles on Leopardus wiedii in the IUCN Cat Specialist Group database. (Scroll down once the library page is loaded to see the list.)

Consider joining the Friends of the Cat Specialist Group to access the full articles and receive their journal Cat News covering the latest wild cat research.

Margay in a tree

Molecular population genetics, evolutionary biology and biological conservation of neotropical carnivores.

Field Guide to the Wild Cats of South America (Spanish)

Neotropical Cats by TG de Oliveira (1994)
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