Margay – a tiny predator with incredible agility

A tiny hunter who survives in a territory with larger rivals

Leopardus wiedii, aka margays, live in humid dense evergreen forests of South and Central America up to Mexico. These wild cats are relatively small in size, weighing about 3-8kg, body length ranging from 60-80cm (without taking into account the as long tail).

Margays look like Ocelots, but are much smaller. Margay is a tiny predator with incredible agility, stealth and other necessary skills for a hunter who survives in a territory with larger rivals.

The ankles of these animals rotate 180°, which lets them run down trees like squirrels. They hunt at night and dusk. It’s almost impossible to see them in the daytime. Primarily, they eat rodents, birds and small primates.

Scientists have discovered, that margays are quite cunning hunters. These cats have learned to imitate the voice of Pied tamarins (Saguinus bicolor), so that these animals would come down from the trees, then they try their luck in hunting them. This tactic was once noticed by biologists, observing how one of these long-tailed cats hunts a group of eight tamarins.

The wild cat got closer to the tree, where these monkeys were feeding, and began to make sounds similar to the cries of baby tamarins. Hearing the “cries” of a baby tamarin, the monkeys got down from the tree. At that same moment, the margay tried to attack them. The female predator didn’t manage to catch the monkeys, however this helped the scientists figure out their new hunting tactic.

Margays are now considered endangered animals. Any hunting for these animals is prohibited internationally.

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