Margay vs. Ocelot
Difference Between Margay And Ocelot
In the 1800s a wildcat called the margay roamed as far north as New Mexico and southern Texas. Today there is some doubt as to the survival of these populations. Margays can still be found to the south, in the mountains and tropical rain forests from Mexico through Brazil. But this elegant cat is endangered throughout its range. The two main threats are hunting and the destruction of its habitat.
Each year, fur traders around the world sell thousands of margay pelts. The cat’s spotted cinnamon fur is used as expensive collars and in hats. At the same time, people continue to destroy the margay’s wilderness home for lumber and land development.
Of all the cats in the world, the margay may be the most skillful and acrobatic tree climber. The margay’s wide paws are flexible, like hands, and give the cat an exceptionally firm grip. It can scurry up and down a tree trunk like a squirrel, with its head facing downward. (Other cats must clumsily back down, tail first.) The margay can even hang upside down from a branch, using the unusually long claws on its back feet for support. The agile margay hunts at night, silently nabbing unsuspecting birds and squirrels in their nests. If it cannot grab its prey by surprise, the margay gives a tremendous chase, leaping and scrambling from tree to tree.
Ocelot, a medium-size, striped-and-spotted cat native to the New World. Because of wide variations in the animal’s size and color, the ocelot had previously been classified under more than 30 different species and subspecies. It is now recognized as a single species, Leopardus pardalis. The ocelot and two other species, the margay (L. weidii) and the little spotted cat (L. tigrinus), are the only living members of the genus Leopardus. They are members of the family Felidae, in the order Carnivora, class Mammalia. All are restricted to tropical or subtropical parts of the New World.
Physical Characteristics and Habitat
The ocelot has a combined head-and-body length of 22 to 391/2 inches (55 to 100 cm) and a tail 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 cm) long. It weighs between 25 and 35 pounds (11.3 to 15.8 kg). Females are generally smaller than males.
The color pattern of the body is striking. The tail is banded, and the limbs are marked with solid spots and blotches. The ground color is gray, buff, or tawny, except on the underparts of the animal, which are nearly white.