Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ocelot or margay?

I thought I’d start off this little blog adventure with a camera trap photo. Although I've conducted camera-trap studies for years in the Gallon Jug Estate, as well as other parts of Belize, at the moment I am (sadly) without camera traps. All is not lost -- Chan Chich Lodge manager, Ben, has 3 camera traps that he has placed at random locations near the Lodge. Here is a recent photo.

There are two small spotted cats in Belize, the ocelot and the margay. This most looks like an ocelot to me, though it is hard to tell from the photo for sure. A couple of reasons:

1) margay tails are long and appear that they could drag the ground, whereas ocelot tails are shorter, about "knee length" -- in this photo, it appears shorter rather than longer

2) margays appear more delicate -- this is a pretty robust cat

3) margays have a more "open" streaked pattern along the neck area, admittedly hard to see in this photo

4) margays tend to occur in a different sort of forest rather than along rivers, in my experience; generally a shorter, scrubbier dry forest

I'm going with "ocelot," but it is difficult to say for sure.