Leopardus wiedii, common name: margay
Photos by Glória Jafet

The name Leopardus wiedii honors Prinz Maximilian zu Wied-Neuwied, who led a scientific expedition to Brazil during the years 1815-1817, some seventeen years before his famous North American expedition that included several months in New Harmony, Indiana.

This species, also known by the common names margay and tigrillo, inhabits forests northward from Argentina to southern Texas.

One of the margay's distinguishing characteristics is its agility as a climber. It spends much of its time in trees and is seen speeding up and down trunks in the manner of squirrels—that is, head first while descending.

The images of a margay shown here are based on photographs by Glória Jafet, whom I thank for permission to use them. Other fine photography by Mrs. Jafet can be viewed at website of the São Paulo Zoo (link below).

The margay seen here is about five years old. Her name is Honey (Mel in Portuguese).

Originally, the scientific name for the margay was Felis wiedii, the epithet "wiedii" being given by Heinrich Rudolf Schinz in 1821, according to Georges Cuvier, in his book Das Thierreich ... , published in 1846. Placement of the species in the genus Leopardus dates from a 1961 publication by Weigel. Further details can be accessed by visiting the Smithsonian Institution's Mammal Species of the World Home Page (link below).

Within the species there is considerable variation in color and in the shape and size of the spots on the skin. Total length for adults, not including an extended tail, ranges from 0.46 meter to 0.80 meter (about 32 inches); the tail ranges in length from 0.33 meter to 0.52 meter. The maximal weight is about 25 lbs.
The margay is a night-time hunter, solitary except during mating season. It preys on small and medium-sized monkeys, birds, lizards, amphibians, rodents, and insects. In captivity, margays live for about 13 years.

Prinz Maximilian zu Wied-Neuwied, naturalist, ethnologist
São Paulo Zoo
Mammal Species of the World Home Page
New Harmony Scientists, Educators, Writers & Artists
Clark Kimberling Home Page