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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Margay, perhaps the rarest "Cat" in the USA inhabits the scrub woodlands of South Texas(perhaps Arizona and New Mexico as well).............Similar to the larger ocelot in appearance, its head is a little shorter, the eyes larger, and the tail and legs longer..... It weighs from 2.6 to 4 kilograms (5.7 to 8.8 lb),....The Margay is nocturnal and rare in its environment.....Most dietary studies have been based on stomach contents and fecal analysis..... This cat eats small mammals (sometimes including monkeys), birds, eggs, lizards and tree frogs.......It may also eat grass and other vegetation, most likely to help digestion...... A 2006 report about a margay chasing squirrels in its natural environment confirmed that this cat is able to hunt its prey entirely in trees....... However, margays do sometimes hunt on the ground, and have been reported to eat terrestrial prey, such as rats

Francis Marion opens new facility in Ecuador

The Margay


The margay is a small carnivorous jungle cat, but little is known about it. Anne-Marie Hodge, a gradaute student at UNC-W, captured photos of them at the Wildsumaco Wildlife Sanctuary with a motion sensitive camera as part of her thesis.

It's rare for a school the size of Francis Marion University to open a research station abroad, but last month a biology professor's dreams were realized at a ribbon cutting high above the Amazon River basin in Ecuador.

After seven years of fundraising and coordinating, FMU associate biology professor Travis Knowles is now the director of the Wildsumaco Biological Station. The three-building compound perches at 4,500 feet on the eastern crest of the Andes Mountains, six hours southeast of Quito, where hundreds of species of tropical birds flutter through the forest, mysterious mammals call from tree to tree by night and below them spotted jungle cats stalk their prey.

"It really sits in what amounts to one of the most diverse forests on the entire planet and very little scientific study has ever been done there so we're really fortunate," Knowles said. "Ecuador is what's referred to as a mega diverse country as far as the species."

FMU students, undergraduates and graduates from partner institution University of North Carolina at Wilmington, as well as professional scientists, now have the opportunity to explore unknown flora and fauna in the virtually untouched reserve, where Knowles anticipates the discovery of many new species.

Though ecotourism is a big industry in other Central and South American nations like Costa Rica, the concept is newer to Ecuador. But Knowles says the economic impact of studying the lush environment is a pivotal step in conserving it.

Because most Ecuadorian people struggle financially, they turn to deforestation to generate income, through logging and farming tomato-like plants called "naranjilla" on cleared lands until they're drained of nutrients.

"For the first time they have something that makes keeping the forest standing valuable. People want to come there and see wildlife and income comes from that," Knowles said. "We cannot just tell people they have to conserve their forest. They're poor people, they need income, they have families to raise. So how do we help them, and this ecotourism is one way we can do that."

He said learning the obstacles of conservation firsthand is an important lesson for his students, especially in a time biologists consider to be a mass extinction era because of habitat loss. He added that saving biodiversity is essential for everyone, whether they're aware of it or not.
The Margay (Leopardus wiedii) is a spotted cat native to Middle and South America. Named for Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied,[3] it is a solitary and nocturnal animal that prefers remote sections of the rainforest. Although it was once believed to be vulnerable to extinction, the IUCN now lists it as "Near Threatened".[2] It roams the rainforests from Mexico to Argentina. A small population is still believed to inhabit South Texas and perhaps Arizona and New Mexico

Physical characteristics

The margay is very similar to the larger ocelot in appearance, although the head is a little shorter, the eyes larger, and the tail and legs longer. It weighs from 2.6 to 4 kilograms (5.7 to 8.8 lb), with a body length of 48 to 79 centimetres (19 to 31 in), and a tail length of 33 to 51 centimetres (13 to 20 in). Unlike most other cats, the female possesses only two teats.

The fur is brown in colour, and marked with numerous rows of dark brown or black rosettes and longitudinal streaks. The undersides are paler, ranging from buff to white, and the tail has numerous dark bands and a black tip. The backs of the ears are black with circular white markings in the centre.[
Most notably the margay is a much more skillful climber than its relative, and it is sometimes called the tree ocelot because of this ability. Whereas the ocelot mostly pursues prey on the ground, the margay may spend its entire life in the trees, leaping after and chasing birds and monkeys through the treetops. Indeed, it is one of only two cat species[4] with the ankle flexibility necessary to climb head-first down trees (the other being the clouded leopard). It is remarkably agile; its ankles can turn up to 180 degrees,[5] it can grasp branches equally well with its fore and hind paws, and it is able to jump up to 12 feet (3.7 m) horizontally.[4] The margay has been observed to hang from branches with only one foot.

 Distribution and habitat

The margay is found from the Southern USA on down through MexicoCentral America and in northern South America east of the Andes. The southern edge of its range reaches Uruguay and northern Argentina. They are found almost exclusively in areas of dense forest, ranging from tropical evergreen forest to tropical dry forest and high cloud forest. Margays have sometimes also been observed in coffee and cocoa plantations.[4]


Because the margay is mostly nocturnal and is naturally rare in its environment, most dietary studies have been based on stomach contents and fecal analysis. This cat eats small mammals (sometimes including monkeys), birds, eggs, lizards and tree frogs.[6] It may also eat grass and other vegetation, most likely to help digestion. A 2006 report about a margay chasing squirrels in its natural environment confirmed the margay is able to hunt its prey entirely in trees.[7] However, margays do sometimes hunt on the ground, and have been reported to eat terrestrial prey, such as cane rats and guinea pigs.[4]

There has been one report of a margay using auditory mimicry to try to lure one of its prey. A margay was observed to imitate the call of a pied tamarin infant while in the presence of a group of adult tamarins, leading the adults to investigate. While the margay was not successful in catching one of the monkeys, this represents the first observation of a Neotropical predator employing this type of mimicry.[8][9]


Margays are primarily nocturnal, although in some areas, they have also been observed to hunt during the day. They prefer to spend most of their life in the trees, but also travel across the ground, especially when moving between hunting areas. During the day, they rest in relatively inaccessible branches or clumps of lianas.

Like most cats, they are solitary, with the adults only commonly meeting to mate. They are sparsely distributed even within their natural environment, occupying relatively large home ranges of 11 to 16 square kilometres (4.2 to 6.2 sq mi). They use scent marking to indicate their territory, including urine spraying and leaving scratch marks on the ground or on branches. Their vocalisations all appear to be short range; they do not call to each other over long distances.[4]

Margays have recently been discovered to hunt by mimicking the vocalisation of a prey species, Wild Pied Tamarin (Saguinus bicolor),[10] which has been compared by scientists to tool-use by monkeys.[11]

 Reproduction and life cycle

Female margays are in estrus for four to ten days over a cycle of 32 to 36 days, during which they attract males with a long, moaning call. The male responds by yelping or making trilling sounds, and also by rapidly shaking his head from side to side, a behavior not seen in any other cat species. Copulation lasts up to sixty seconds, and is similar to that in domestic cats; it takes place primarily in the trees, and occurs several times while the female is in heat.[4]

Gestation lasts about 80 days, and results in the birth of only a single kitten (or, very rarely, two), usually between March and June. The kittens weigh 85 to 170 grams (3.0 to 6.0 oz) at birth. This is relatively large for a small cat, and is probably related to the long gestation period. The kittens open their eyes at around two weeks of age, and begin to take solid food at seven to eight weeks.[4]
Margays reach sexual maturity at twelve to eighteen months of age, and have been reported to live up to twenty-four years in captivity.[4]

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