Difference Between Ocelot and Margay

Ocelot vs Margay

Identifying an ocelot from a margay would be one of the most difficult tasks for an untrained or an unfamiliar person, as they are very similar looking and closely related wildcats. In addition to their close appearance, the geographic ranges of the two animals are almost the same but with some slight differences. Therefore, a serious attention should be paid for a better understanding about ocelot and margay. However, there are noticeable differences between their physical features including size, head, tail, and legs. This article provides the important information on the both animals and performs a comparison about their particulars to emphasize the differences.


Ocelot, Leopardus pardalis, is a small wildcat of Americas, and they are predominantly distributed in South America and continue through Panama up to Mexico along the Eastern coast of Central American countries. Dwarf leopard is another referred name for these wildcats. These felids look like small jaguars as they have large black colour rosettes on the reddish brown coat of smooth fur. However, those rosettes are sometimes joined and form long stripes. Despite the statement about their size as small, ocelots are larger than domestic cats. In fact, their body length ranges from 70 to 100 centimetres and the body weights vary from eight to 18 kilograms. The length of their tail length of these animals is about 45 centimetres. Their front paws are larger than the rear paws, and the forelimbs are slightly longer than the hind limbs. Ocelot is a territorial and solitary animal active during the night. The sizes of their natural home ranges vary drastically from 3.5 to 46 square kilometres in males and females have small territories. In addition, the females do not cut through others’ areas, and there are territory markings from urine, faeces, or scratch. An association with another individual of the same sex is very rare, but there could be interactions between individuals of the opposite sex.


Margay is a small wildcat living in South America predominantly through Central American countries up to Mexico. It is a spotted wildcat with some important features to notice including the short head, considerably large eyes, and long legs. Additionally, their tail looks disproportionately longer compared to body length. The particulars of their main physical characteristics depict that these are small carnivores. The body weight usually does not go beyond four kilograms, and the maximum body length would be less than 80 centimetres. However, their tail could grow over 50 centimetres sometimes. Usually, long tails are related with maintaining balance for arboreal species, and margay mostly prefers to live on trees. In fact, their habitats include dense tropical forests but not the grasslands. They have a smooth and brownish colored coat of fur with large and thick spots or rosettes. Their rosettes are closed decorations more often than being open. The longitudinal streaks are prominent along the backbone of margays. These arboreal carnivores are nocturnal, territorial, and solitary. The usual size of a territory of a margay varies between 11 and 16 square kilometers.


What is the difference between Margay and Ocelot?

  • Ocelot is larger and heavier than margay.
  • Margay has a shorter head, larger eyes, and longer tail in relation to its body size compared to those of an ocelot.
  • Margays are arboreal carnivores whereas ocelots could be arboreal as well as terrestrial; accordingly, the habitat of margay is always dense forests while ocelot is found in forests as well as in grasslands.
  • Hind limbs are longer in margay, but the forelimb is longer in ocelot.
  • The size of a territory of an ocelot varies in a wider spectrum compared to margay territories.


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    where are the photos for comparison