Margay: Characteristics, Habitat, And Population

Margay used to live in North America. However, it was in the middle of the 19th century that its last specimen was seen in Texas. Today, it only exists in South America, deep within the equatorial forest. Its long tail and elongated limbs allow it to climb trees easily. It’s the terror of birds and monkeys because it can run on the branches using its tail like a pendulum. The margay is truly an interesting cat. You may not know about them, but as a way of gaining knowledge, they’ll help you appreciate nature more than you already do at this moment.

Food of Margay

The margay mainly feeds on birds, small mammals,  lizards, and tree frogs, which it mostly catches in trees.

For this, it has excellent vision and hearing capacities. Even in the darkness of tropical forests, its large eyes can spot the slightest movement thanks to a layer of reflective cells located behind the retina. Such cells are also present in domestic cats, which explains the luminescence of their eyes when they are directly struck by light. Can you imagine if you encounter one in the jungle at night? Surely, it’ll probably induce a nightmare for the ages!

Margay: Characteristics, Habitat, And Population
Margay: Characteristics, Habitat, And Population

An Arboreal Cat

Secret and fleeing, the margay spends much of its time in the trees, where it feeds on birds and lizards. It waits for the night for ground expeditions where it hunts rodents such as rats, mice or squirrels, young deer, sloths, and poultry.

The Hunt

The way margay hunts are very similar to what other felines do. It hides behind trees or bushes, observes, and watches over its prey. Then, it runs and jumps on its prey by biting it on the nape of the neck. It can also catch birds, and small monkeys sleeping in the trees or attack their young, who do not have time to flee. All of this happens without a hint of sound. So, its prey hardly realizes before their life runs out. It’s truly fascinating, wouldn’t you agree?

Behavior of Margay

The margay is a diurnal animal that hunts and feeds in trees where it then spends the night sleeping at the fork of a branch or in a hole. Endowed with exceptional articular flexibility, it’s a real acrobat who can hang on a limb with only one of his hind legs, climb in a spiral along with a barter at a dizzying speed, then go back down the head first. No other feline is capable of such performances.

The margay lives on a vast territory, which it marks by depositing odorous secretions and urine on the rocks or the stumps. It frequently finds different places to sleep, rest, hunt, and devour its prey. The female also sets up a den to raise her young there.

Margay: Characteristics, Habitat, And Population

Threat from Margay

The population of margays across its range is not well-known, but it appears to occur naturally at low densities, and may not be as abundant as previously thought. A few decades ago, the margay was one of the most heavily exploited cats in the Latin American fur trade, especially after concerns began to arise about the level of exploitation of the ocelot. Nearly 14,000 margays were slaughtered annually between 1976 to 1984. The main current threat to margay is the destruction of habitat by deforestation replaced mainly for agriculture, pasture, and road construction.

So, if you’re hearing about it right now, make sure to spread the word among the people you know. People fear and destroy what they don’t understand, and it’s greatly important to correct it.

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