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Margay - The true arboreal cat


Of all of the felines, the Margay is most adapted for a true arboreal life. They have the ability to rotate their hind legs 180. They move with monkey-like ease running down tree trunks head first, or upside down beneath branches. It can also hang from a branch by one hind foot.


They Margay Faceare one of the smallest cats in the cat family. Along with its long slender body, strong paws and claws it is the best cat climber. Some may mistake it for an ocelot because of their similar colors and patterns; yellowish-brownish with spotted and ringed black spots with white fur that runs along its belly up to its throat. The main characteristics to look for would be a long tail and a black stripe along both cheeks, below its large eyes. Their long tails stabilizes the cat as it moves on the ground or in trees. A length of 26 inches and an extra 16 inches for its tail. The Margay is truly an extraordinary feline in its habitat.


They live in the canopies of the rainforests, from Mexico down to Argentina. This cats colors camouflage it well in the night and day and its large night vision eyes allow it to hunt for food without much effort. Their arboreal adaptations also help them protect itself. By sleeping on tree branches it protects itself when sleeping, strong legs help it climb up trees in daylight incase of trouble. They hunt at night among the forest canopy (sometimes from the ground). Their diets include insects, monkeys, birds, opossums, porcupines, marmosets, capuchins, three-toed sloths, and fruits (rarely).


Mating can occur any time during the year, but only once a year. Gestation period is about 75 to 85 days, after which a single kitten is born in a nest in a hollow tree. The kitten is grey and has black spots all over. Their eyes open at 2 weeks old. It may venture outside of its nest at five weeks. Weaning begins at 2 months old. Unlike many other animals, their cubs are taught to hunt very early. They are already able to hunt when they are only 8 weeks old, though they hunt smaller harmless insects and small frogs. Mother Margays teach them that useful skill to protect them if they ever were separated. Mothers are always somewhere near their cubes just incase. Along with hunting, kittens start climbing, each time getting stronger and better skilled. Margays are sexually mature when they are about two years old.


In the past, thousands of individuals per year were harvestedMargay kitten for their fur. Hunting pressure has greatly decreased considerably following international protection, although some illegal harvesting still occurs locally. The virtually exclusive use of forested habitat may make them more vulnerable than the ocelot to the negative effects of habitat destruction and fragmentation. They are extremely rare and endangered throughout its range.


Humans are one of their most dangerous enemies. Humans led Margays to become extinct in Texas and they now are threatening Margays in their home, the rainforest. They do this when they cut down trees and by illegal poaching. There are only around 10,000 Margays left in the wild. Their beautiful fur was and is the main reason why they were being poached, and now they are endangered, luckily new laws in countries are protecting them from poaching. Both when adults and when they are young they are in constant danger.