Learn All About the Jaguar

The Jaguar is the largest cat found in the Americas. This top-level carnivore is often confused with a leopard, despite their significant differences.

What You Should Know

The jaguar is a carnivore that eats crocodiles, deer, snakes, peccary, monkeys, sloths, deer, tapirs, eggs, turtles, fish and frogs. They basically dine on anything they can catch.

The jaguar likes to live and hunt by itself, except when it is mating. For the most part, a jaguar is found on solid ground, but sometimes it also climbs high in a tree to pounce on prey below. Unlike most of the other big cats, the jaguar enjoys being in the water.

Jaguars don’t exist much in the United States anymore and are now endangered throughout Patagonia in South America. Its natural habitat is the rainforest, deciduous forest, swamps and mountain scrub areas. When it sleeps, it hides. It will find an area surrounded by trees or relax in a tree, if possible. If there are no trees, you will find the jaguar resting among the tall grass.

The jaguar measures 25-30 inches at the shoulder and can weigh up to 200 pounds. It will live for up to 12 years, according to Defenders of Wildlife. It features a compact body, broad head and mighty jaws.

What Sound Do They Make?

Listen to the glorious sounds that a jaguar makes.

Group Characteristics

The Jaguar doesn’t migrate but remains in the Amazon basin. All other habitats throughout the Americas have been mainly wiped out. They no longer exist among dry regions and will travel to find freshwater, according to Big Cat Facts.

While they don’t have a breeding season, they do maintain a 100-day gestation period. Most females have two to four cubs at once. Until those babies are one year old, the female jaguar continues to feed them. Then, they remain with their mother until they are about two years old. Jaguars reach maturity around two to three years old for a female and three to four years old for a male.

How Many are There?

According to National Geographic, the Jaguar is part of the IUCN Near Threatened Status. They’ve been killed because of conflicts with livestock and hunted as trophies. Habitat loss continues to be a concern and the construction of a U.S.-Mexico wall might threaten their return to the United States.

Watch a Video

The History Channel did an amazing documentary on the Jaguar and its behavior.

Watch this Jaguar take down a caiman.

Pop Culture

There have been some famous jaguars in animation. One is Manchas the jaguar in Zootopia. He was a black jaguar that drove a limo. He became one of the missing mammals that turned savage in the movie.

Another cartoon jaguar is Gia from Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted. This love interest of Alex was voiced by Jessica Chastain.

In America, one of the largest displays of Jaguars occurs at the San Diego Zoo. They’ve housed and bred jaguars since 1925.

Interesting Facts

Black jaguars have a dominant melanistic gene. While they aren’t uncommon, they are more challenging to see, especially when they spend time in a dark rainforest.

The most distinctive feature that sets a jaguar apart from a leopard, according to Discover Wildlife, is the spot shape. They have spots that look like roses and are often called rosettes. The jaguar’s rosettes have spots inside them where a leopard does not.

In addition, jaguars are often talked about as a nocturnal animal. However, they appear to be more active around dawn and dusk. This is also referred to as crepuscular behavior.