What creature is smaller than an ocelot and bigger than a wildcat, but looks like both? The margay, that's what!
The margay is a small, leopard-like cat that spends most of its life in the treetops of the Amazon rainforest. You might also find margays in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Uruguay. The margay also once dwelled in Texas, but it was hunted to extinction in this area.
Even in nature preserves, the margay faces the threat of hunters. But this little cat’s biggest threat is actually habitat loss, due to human demand for paper and wood.
Margays don’t look too different from their relatives the ocelot and the leopard—with their plush tawny coats and coal-black spots, called
—but these animals have pretty different skill sets. Margays are the only cats that can rotate their feet 180 degrees, for example, which enables them to rocket down trees like squirrels. They can even hang off a branch using only one hind foot!
Margays typically weigh six to 19 pounds and measure 30 to 57 inches long from nose to tail tip. They stand about 180 to 208 inches tall on average. The margay’s large eyes enable it to see well in the dark, and its long tail provides balance. The margay usually lives up to 20 years in captivity.
The margay’s diet consists of small arboreal creatures such as squirrels, small birds, porcupines, and three-toed sloths. They also occasionally eat fruit.
The Margay is a cool animal, because it has adapted to its treetop environment to become one of the most unique creatures in the Animal Kingdom.
The Encyclopedia of Animals