By Rani Iyer

Scientific Name: Leopardus wiedii

It’s not a monkey, yet it lives on trees. This creature is a great imitator and mimics the call of other animals. And this creature leaps and chases monkeys and birds on treetops. Can you guess the animal?

Here is another clue. The fur of this creature is honey colored with rows of black rosettes and longitudinal streaks. Did you say a cat? Yes! You are right. This creature is called Margay (Leopardus wiedii).

Margay. Photo by Rhett A. Butler
You can see Margay in rainforests from Mexico to Argentina. Watch out! Like a monkey, the Margay can hang from the branches and climb down head first from trees. It is a small cat, about 4 kg (9 lbs) and 79 cm long (31 inches). The tail has a black tip with many dark bands.

Margay is nocturnal and lives alone. A tired, resting Margay, rests in clumps of lianas that is difficult to climb on. The cat feeds on monkeys, birds, lizards, squirrels, tree frogs, and eggs. Margay comes down to the ground, when moving between hunting areas. When on the ground, they eat cane rats and guinea pigs.

Margay. Photo by Rhett A. Butler
Each Margay requires about 16 square km (6.2 square miles) to live well in the forest. As forests are disappearing, Margay is becoming rare. In the past, Margay was found in Texas. Today they are extinct in Texas. Margay will be lost forever if we don’t save forests or stop hunting them.

Here are some ideas to incorporate Margay in lessons:


  • May I use graphics from for my projects? Yes, you may provided that you don't remove the mongabay label from the images. You may use information from the site for class projects and can cite mongabay as the source.
  • Is this web site credible? Mongabay is the world's most popular source for information on tropical forests. The site is highly acclaimed by a number of the world's leading tropical scientists. Mongabay Founder Rhett Butler has published several scientific papers.
  • Can I interview the founder of mongabay for my school project? Unfortunately Rhett is not available for interviews. However he has answered some common questions on the Rainforest Interview page.
  • Do you have any games or activities? Currently there are a few on the resources page.
  • How can I help save rainforests? Some ideas are listed at Rainforest Solutions.
  • Where can I learn more about rainforests? Check the main rainforest site.