Showing posts with label margay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label margay. Show all posts

Monday 18 April 2022

Cats That Live in Trees

This is a list of cats that live in trees. I am referring to a group of wild cat species, of course. The first sentence should be qualified by saying that no cat species lives in trees all the time. There are wild cats that live in forests and spend time in trees and hunt in trees. These cats also live on the ground (terrestrial cats). All cats are good climbers. Some are better than others. Tree dwelling cats are the best climbers for obvious reasons. They are usually slender and have long tails for balance. The picture of the margay below illustrates this admirably.

These two wild cat species are the best climbers and most associated with tree dwelling:
  1. Margay
  2. Clouded leopard
Margay resting in a tree, typical behavior - Photo copyright Adriane Taylor
See more of Adriane's work

Other wild cat species that spend time in trees are:
  • Ocelet - hunt on the ground, rest in trees and escape to trees
  • Leopard cat - likes forest cover and can be "quite arboreal in their habits"¹
  • African golden cat  - thought to be arboreal but short tail and stocky body indicates otherwise. More needs to be known about this cat.
  • Marbled cat - more arboreal than the average wild cat species.
  • Leopard - we have all seen leopards taking prey into trees and resting in trees.
All but one lives in Asia, where logging is destroying their habitat. See cats that like water.

Note: "Arboreal" means: living in trees. (1) Wild Cats of the World.


This is probably the best feline tree dweller. They tend to prey on other animals living in trees and terrestrial animals. They often feed on birds, rodents, insects and fruit. Yes, fruit. Most of the prey of the margay are nocturnal and arboreal. However, they also hunt on the ground feeding on mice, rabbits and young pacas and agoutis for example.

Saturday 5 May 2018

What Does Margays Mean?

People ask the rather strange question "what does margays mean?" The word margays is the plural of the name of a small wild cat species called a margay. It lives in central and South America. The 18th-century naturalist George Buffon was the first person to use this name. Mel and Fiona Sunquist in their book Wild Cats of the World say that the name probably originates from the Guarani mbaracaya, meaning "wild cat".

Photo: Felidae Conservation Fund

Guarani is the language of the Guarani . There are over 3 million speakers of this language. My online research indicates that the language is one of the main divisions of the Tupi-Guarani language family. It is also the national language of Paraguay. They you are. I've answered the question "what does margays mean?" I hope this helps.

Sunday 24 July 2016

How do margays get their food?

The question in the title asks how do margays hunt prey and then catch prey. This is my interpretation of the question in the title. It needs to be said right away that the margay is an incredibly agile small wild cat species which has physical adaptations allowing the cat to climb trees with great agility. You can read more about that on this page.

There's not been much research and very few observations of the hunting behaviour of wild margays. The limited research and information indicates that this cat species does much of its hunting above the ground.

In Guyana it was reported that the margay feeds on large arboreal mammals such as porcupines and capuchin monkeys. Although this report is unreliable. Recent analysis of the stomach contents and faeces of the margay indicates that they feed mainly on small rodents, insects, fruit and birds.

Most of the margay's prey are arboreal (living in trees) and nocturnal (active by night). However, this cat species also hunts on the ground.

One scientist radio collared a margay travelling from one hunting area to another on the ground. They probably kill whatever suitable terrestrial prey they encounter while moving between hunting areas.

In Brazil another scientists watched the margay spent 20 minutes trying to catch a bird. The bird was 6 meters up in a bamboo club. The cat was in the bamboo clump himself and when the bird flew off the cat came to the ground. The same scientists recorded a margay eating an amphibian beneath the tree.

In Venezuelan, the stomach contents of 2 margays contained the remains of three spiny pocket mice, a cane rat and a squirrel. Of these three items of prey, the squirrel was the only one which is arboreal.

In Chiapas, Mexico it has been reported that the margay preyed on field mice, rabbits and young pacas and agoutis. These are all ground dwelling animals.

In Panama, a margay's stomach contents contained the remains of a common opossum.

In Brazil the stomach contents of another margay contained the remains of a guinea pig, the fur and bones of a water rat and the feathers of a tinamou.

In Belize it was found that the climbing rat was the most common element of the margay's diet. It occurred in almost half of the 27 faeces collected.

Fruit occurred in 14% of the samples of faeces taken from margays in Belize. Insects were found in the third of the faeces (scats).

As to the actual method of hunting and killing prey this would be very similar to the domestic cat's methods which means stalking, pouncing and then killing often by a bite to the nape of the neck to sever the spinal cord.

I hope that answers the question in the title.

Source: Myself and Wild Cats Of The World by the Sunquists.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Wild Cats of South America

A list of the wildcats of South America in a spreadheet plus range map details and links to more. The wildcats are, in descending order of size: jaguar, puma, ocelot, jaguarundi, Geoffroy's cat, Andean mountain cat, margay, pampas cat and oncilla. Please go to the wild cat species page to see the wildcats of the world.

Selected associated pages:

Monday 21 November 2011

Margay Photograph

This is an-in-your-face Margay photograph. It is a camera trap photograph, as you can see.  It is not a pretty picture of a margay in captivity. The cat is too close to the camera to be sharp. It had to be sharpened. I also added the text which is allowed under the license and I modified the tones as well. The photo is by Smithsonian Wild. Thank you for the license to publish it. The license to publish this photograph allows you to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work and to make derivative work.

Margay in Peru - photo by Smithsonian Wild under creative commons.

What about the appearance of the margay, which, by the way, is probably the best climber of all the world's cats, wild or domestic?

Showing long tail - Photo by siwild
This is a small, slender, lightweight cat with a long tail for balance. These attributes are all designed for living in trees (arboreal habits). The donut (doughnut in the UK) shaped spots interest me. They are very clear in this photograph. These are called "open spots". They are dark brown or black in color while the centers are pale.

The eyes are massive in comparison to the size of the head. Usually a cat's eyes are 8 times bigger than ours in relation to head size but the margay looks like an exception. They are even larger. This wild cat must be nocturnal. The flash of the camera trap photograph supports that. This individual cat was active at night. Research indicates that it is, in general, most active between 1am and 5 am.

The margay is similar in appearance to the oncilla and ocelot. However, it is smaller than the ocelot and has a longer tail despite very similar coat markings. See ocelot picture for comparison.

The fur of the margay is soft and thick. The margay expends energy at an unusually low rate when at rest.

Sunday 13 November 2011

Margay Photos

Here are two fine margay photos by Arjan Haverkamp. He is a photographer who publishes his photographs on Flickr.  He kindly agreed to allow me to publish these photos here. Please ask him if you want to use them.

The margay is a small, tree dwelling wildcat with an enormous climbing ability. They spend a lot of the time in trees. One radio collared margay rested during the day in a palm tree 7 meters off the ground. 

Margay - Photo copyright Arjan Haverkamp

They are extremely agile and acrobatic climbers. They demonstrate a monkey-like ability when traveling through trees.  They can jump 8 feet straight up and 12 feet horizontally. They descend trees head first. The margay can hang from branches from their hind feet and grab with their front paws at the same time. 

Their hind feet are adapted to climbing in a special way. They can rotate inwards 180 degrees. Their eyesight is excellent. They can spot a fly at 30 feet¹. You can see the size of their eyes in these photos. They are like large, glossy, dark marbles. Their long tails provide stability and balance. You can see the tail wrapped around the paws in the photo above. Their slender frame provides a high power to weight ratio.

Margay - Photo copyright Arjan Haverkamp

Note: (1) Wild Cats of the World - ISBN-13: 978-0-226-77999-7

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