What's in a name?
That which we call a margay by any other name would prance as free?
Scientific Name Derivation
Photo, used with permission, by Nancy Vandermey
The margay was originally named Felis wiedii by Heinrich Rudolf Schinz in 1821. The species epithet "wiedii" was given in honor of Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied, a German explorer and naturalist who led expeditions to Brazil and North American. During that time Prince Wied was able to study and document the cultures of many tribes as well as the fauna and flora inhabiting the area. The margay will forever bear Prince Wied's name in its species epithet, but the genus classification of the tropical cat has since changed. It is now included in the genus Leopardus, in the company of the other small spotted cats in the Americas.
Common Name Derivation
The frequently used name for Leopardus wiedii, the margay, was first used by French naturalist Buffon. It strings from the word "maragao," a term originally used by a traveler to describe the cat and most likely derived from the Guarani term " mbaracaya" meaning wild cat. There are also a number of other names used to describe the margay, which vary by location, as seen below.
Prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied
Photo, used with permission, by Steve Kaufman
Other Common Names
Ctigrillo or Gato Tigre (Spain)
Gato Pintado (Argentina, Peru, Venezuela)
Gato Montes or Gato de Monte (Bolivia, Uraguay)
Gato Maracaja Mirim Peludo (Brazil)
Pichigueta (Central America)
Caucel (Costa Rica, Honduras)
Chat Tig or Chat Margay (French Guiana)
Huamburushu (Peru, Venezuela)
Tigrikati or Boomkat (Suriname)