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Two Small, but Beautiful Cats and One Big Bird.three Rare Species.

Updated on August 8, 2015

The Ocelot is very similar as regards appearance to the Margay

The Margay

I commence with a look at two small but beautiful wild cats that may not be as well known as the big cats such as the Puma but they lead an interesting and secretive life style that many may not be aware of. The first of these animals inhabits the rain forests of South America from Mexico to Argentina. The Margay, Leopardus weidii, formerly Felis tigrina rivals the Ocelot in the beauty of its markings.

The ground colour is pale fawn, white on the lower parts. The head and neck are adorned with black bands running length ways, narrow and distinct along the crown and becoming broad upon the neck.On the cheeks there are three lines and on the throat a crescent shaped gorget.

The back and sides are marked with open circular rings surrounding a center of a reddish tinge than that of the body, the whole surrounded irregularly with a black line. The thighs and tail are ringed with black and tawny bands, the insides of the former with black and white. They are very similar to the Ocelot in appearance although the eyes are larger and the tail and legs are longer. Ocelots weigh three times more than the margay. They can also be differentiated by the length of the tail. The tail of the Ocelot is shorter than the hind legs, while the tail of the margay is longer than the back legs.

The margay weigh 2.6-3.9kg. they breed throughout the year. They near one, rarely two young which weigh 166.5 gms at birth { 5.87 ozs} which are born in a rather undeveloped state. They are unable to feed or care for themselves or walk independently for a period of time. These cats have only got two teats which is very unusual among cat species. The young kittens are able to eat solid food after about eight weeks.

The Margay is beautifully marked


Margay in its natural haunts. | Source

Lifestyle and conservation concerns.

Margays are active during the day and remain in the same region. They are solitatry animals with a home range of between 15-43 sq mls. They hunt birds,mammals, amphibians, reptiles, eggs, insects and will take fruit.

These beautiful animals were once hunted for their valuable skins. This practice still continues, illegally, in some parts of their range by unscrupulous dealers, both for their valuable fur and for the pet trade.

Margays tend to frequent the remote, secluded parts of the forest, here they spend much of their time among the tree tops, while the Ocelot tends to do its hunting on the ground. The margay are unique { among cats} having ankle joints which are more reminiscent of those of the squirrels ankle joints than feline ones, which allow them to come down the tree head first. They can also firmly grasp the thinnest of branches with all four feet, thus allowing it to access the parts of the tree, which the heavier, ocelot could not. They also have an amazing leaping ability. They do descend from the trees to the ground at times and this is particularly true when moving between hunting territories.

There are ten recognised species of margay. This beautiful cat is classed as Vulnerable and is thought to be in decline through much of its range.

The Bornean Cat/Bay cat

From South America the home of the Margay, we move to Borneo for our other cat species. The Bornean cay also known as the Bay cat, Pardofelis badia, is endemic to Borneo. It was formerly known by the Scientific name of Catopuma badia, but has recently been moved.

It has the head and body length of 55cm and a tail length of 35cm and weighs between 3-4kg.

Pardofelis badia

Description and Lifestyle

This species is forest dependent, inhabiting the dense forested regions, often close to streams, however, there have reports of this cat being seen on limestone outcrops and in scrub-land.It feeds on small mammals such as rodents, birds and carrion. very little is known about this allusive cat which is regarded as beautiful but vicious, and there are records of it attacking much larger animals than itself.

There are two coloured variants of Pardofelis badia, the more common being of a bright chestnut fur, rather paler beneath. The limbs and tail are also paler. The tail is elongated, tapering at the end. On the under side of the tailthere is a white streak towards the end, gradually becoming wider and of a purer white towards the tip. The ears are rounded, covered with short blackish brown fur on the outer side, paler brown within. The chin, edge of the lower jaw and gullit are whitish.

The second colour variation is greyer, with dark-coloured rounded ears and a whitish stripe that runs down the ventral side of the body.

There secret and nocturnal lifestyle means that sightings of this rare cat are extremely rare. they are classed as being Endangered. This because of the low population numbers { some authorities have the number as low as 50 individuals.} , and this is further compounded by illegal hunting {trapping} for their valuable fur, but an even bigger threat is thought to be is the loss of habitat.

Commercial logging and the increasing introduction of oil palm plantations are a serious threat, and could ultimately bring about the demise of this beautiful species. They are included on CITES { Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species} Appedix 11 { as Catopuma badia}. . It is fully protected by National legislation across most of its range.

And now the big bird

The bird under review is the Great Argus Pheasant Argusianus argus which is a large and beautiful bird and a very unusal pheasant which inhabits Borneo, Sumatra and the Malayan Peninsular in South East Asia.

The bird despite its superior size and very uncommon elongated feathers,is a true pheasant. The bill is thick and of a yellowish pink colour. It is compressed with the upper mandible curved and slightly hooked at the tip. The nostrils are are about the middle of the upper mandible and half closed by a membrane.

The legs and feet are reddish, the three anterior toes are partially united by a membrane, and they have rasorial or scraping nails in common with all Gallinaceous birds. The head and cheeks and part of the neck are devoid of feathers. Both sexes have the skin coloured blue in these areas.The irises are red brown. On the head they have black hair like feathers and short dark crests.

The tail is elongated, divided into two compressed planes of six feathers, having two feathers longer than the rest.The wings are also unusual in their structure, they are very short in relation to the size of the bird, but also in proportion to the primary feathers.

The length of the tail feathers in the male are an impressive three feet long. These prominent feathers are studded with 'eye' spots. These 'eye' spots are the reason for both the Generic, species and common names of this bird, being attributed to the mythical one hundred eyed giant Argus panoptes. It is in the male that these 'eye' spots are most brilliantly displayed. The majestic tail is elevated and spreads out into a fan-shape, with the two long feathers rising higher than the rest. The multitude of 'eyes' glittering , gives the whole display the form of a coronial plume.

In most species of birds and especially so in the Gallinaceous birds, the females are much less showy than the males, and the tail of the female is much shorter and much less ornate.

Female Argus Pheasant


Male Argus pheasant

Taken at Lok Kawi Wildlife Park Malaysia the photograph was originally uploaded from Flickr Photograph Peter Gordon
Taken at Lok Kawi Wildlife Park Malaysia the photograph was originally uploaded from Flickr Photograph Peter Gordon | Source

Habits and Breeding

The habits in general are similar to those of other pheasant species with the exception that they do not habitually roost in trees. This species is regarded to have the loudest call of all birds. By this means it wards off its enemies, but it is also utilised to locate members of the family which may have strayed. The birds only seem to associate with their own family groups. They feed on fruits, seeds, flowers, leaf buds and invertebrates.

As the breeding season comes upon them, the male bird will construct, in a clearing, a small arena of sticks and twigs. After calling the female into his arena he circles around her, with each circling becoming closer to her, while flapping his wings. Eventually the business of mating commences.

The female lays two eggs [rarely more] . The eggs are incubated for 25 days or so with both parents sharing the task.

Illustration of female

Creative commons-Public Domain
Creative commons-Public Domain | Source

Conservation issues

Due to the on going loss of habitat and the fact they are still illegally hunted/trapped, and disturbance suffered at breeding areas in some regions the Great Argus pheasant is classified as being Near Threatened on the I.U.C.N. Red list it also appears on Appendix II of CITES.


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    • D.A.L. profile image

      Dave 5 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Hi, PegCole17 Nice to meet you, thank you for your appreciated comments. Best wishes to you.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      These are beautiful animals and I enjoyed learning more about them from your delightful article.

    • D.A.L. profile image

      Dave 5 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Hi jandee, Nice to see you here. This decline is a sad refection on how we treat fellow creatures and their habitats these days. Thank you for visiting and for taking the time to comment it is appreciated. Best wishes to you.

    • jandee profile image

      jandee 5 years ago from Liverpool.U.K

      Hello D.A.L.

      Such Beauty. How sad that they are in decline . Thanks for information which was new to me,

      best from jandee.