The largest cat in the Americas, an adult Jaguar weighs from 200 to 250 pounds. In length a jaguar is 5 ½ to 8 feet long, including tail. They live in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico, Central, and South America, though they are very rare in the United States. The jaguar, who swims well, likes to live near water. Their habitat ranges from rainforest to seasonally flooded swamp areas, pampas grassland, thorn scrub woodland, and deciduous forest.
A jaguar will eat almost anything it can catch, but prefers large prey, such as peccaries, tapirs, deer, or cattle. The latter causing a conflict between jaguar and humans. Jaguars regularly kill prey (especially capybaras) by piercing the skull with their canines.
Compared to a leopard the jaguar rosettes (the group of spots) consist of a pattern of spots enclosing smaller spots. Jaguar rosettes are larger in size and less in number than a leopard’s. Body shape is also different between the two species—jaguar are stockier and more muscular looking, with shorter legs and tails. Some jaguar have black-on-black (melanistic) coloration.
Jaguar are solitary animals who live and hunt alone, except during mating season. Their home range is for males 19 to 53 square miles and for females 10 to 37 square miles. They make their dens in caves and canyons. Usually a litter is 1 to 4 cubs.
Aztec and Mayan civilizations used jaguar images to represent rulers or royalty and warriors.
Fun Jaguar Facts
- Jaguar are endangered through loss of habitat (deforestation and mining) and through hunting or poaching.
- Jaguars hunt mainly at night.
- The jaguar’s name means “a beast that kills its prey with a single bound.”
- A jaguar’s roar sounds like a deep, chesty cough.
- Melanistic jaguar have been mistakenly called “black panthers.” Black panthers do not exist.
Defenders of Wildlife
IUCN - The World Conservation Union
San Diego Zoo