Leopardus wiedii

LEOPARDUS WIEDIISasha, LSV's female margay on a tree


Scientific name: Leopardus Wiedii
English names: Margay
Spanish names: Gato tigre, Tigrillo, Caucel, Maracayá o Margay
At la Senda Verde: Sasha Female, Guanay Male
Body Weight: 2.6 to 4 Kg (5.7 to 8.8 lb)
Body Length: 48-79cm (19 to 31 in)
Tail Length: 33 to 51 cm (13 to 20 in)


The Margay is a species specialized for hunting and living in the trees. Its range is limited to the densely forested areas that begin in Mexico, pass through Central America, and cover most of South America east of the Andes all the way down to northern Argentina and Uruguay.

However large its range may be, this cat is listed as Near Threatened, due to the intervention of their habitats, the forests they live in, which need to be very pristine for this animal to be able to thrive. In southern Mexico there was once a mass loss of Margays due to a market of furs that lasted for several decades. In Bolivia de main problem with Margays besides habitat loss is pet trade.

The Margay was named  Felis Wiedii in honour of Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied, a German Ethnologist and Naturalist. The name Margay is a french derivation of the Tupi Guarani word Mb’arakaya, which is the name given to this specific feline.

Margays are nocturnal. They are a type of feline that is completely adapted to living and hunting in branches; having a peculiar adaptation of being able to twist their ankle 180 degrees which allows them to descend head down trees and also run below branches. They are small, agile, can jump far and can see well at night. Their prays are mostly birds, squirrels and sometimes monkeys. They tend to develop high micro-habitat specificity; for example in South America, one Margay was observed mimicking the sound of a baby Tamarin monkey to lure the adults and hunt them, a skill comparable only to monkeys using tools for feeding.

Margays have only one cub at a time and rarely have two. They mate only 5 years in a lifetime. This means this species has a hard time recovering in their population numbers.


  • Males have a range of up to 15 square kilometers. They are small cats but use a lot of space.
  • Females only have two teats, normally cats have up to five
  • Margays can rotate their ankles 180 degrees to climb head down a trunk
  • Margays can hang from a branch grasping it only with their hind legs




Sasha arrived the 29th of May of 2007. She’s been ten years with us now. She was rescued by a couple of volunteers from Slovakia who noticed that a family in the town of Sapecho was keeping a Margay as a pet. The family did not want to turn her in, until she hurt the face of one of the two little girls in the family. Once they finally turned her in, the girl asked that she keep the same name, Sasha (please note: this is a time when the current environmental police didn’t exist in Bolivia. We do not receive animals from individuals). Sasha was five months old when she was turned in.

Sasha was alone for many years. Robyn Kunimoto, a long-term volunteer from Canada, took care of her for many months. Once she escaped from her hands and ran straight for a Macaw and killed it in an instant, reminder of the fact that she is a wild animal.

The male margay, Guanay, arrived in 2015. He was captured by the then recently created environmental police POFOMA from a family in the town of Mapiri that kept him in a very small cage. He was 1 year old then and had been kept in the cage all that time.

We had to build separate enclosures for Sasha and Guanay, they lived next to each other but separated by a fence. It took one year for them to get used to each other, and finally after that time we united them in a single enclosure.

Since Guanay lived so long in a small cage, he suffered more illnesses throughout his life at LSV. Sasha on the other hand has never been sick.





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