Jaguars are excellent swimmers and quite at home in water. They hunt successfully in rivers, catching frogs and small alligators, or swiping at fish while clinging to an overhanging branch.
Amazing Facts About the Jaguar
- The jaguar is the largest wild cat in the Americas. Its coat provides excellent camouflage but it is also prized by the fur trade, and this is one reason why the jaguar is now very rare indeed.
- Little is known of the family life of the jaguar in the wild and biologists now trying to study it in its natural habitat are handicapped because it has become so rare.
- The jaguar is often misidentified for a leopard (and vice-a-versa). However, the jaguar has a larger, more powerful looking jaw than the leopard (the leopard’s head is smaller and narrower than the heavier jaguar). Their body outlines are very similar, but the jaguar is more heavily built with a stocky appearance and sturdier legs. Even the jaguar’s distinctive spotted coat is almost the same as the leopards. However, the jaguar’s spots are more defined, darker and larger.
- The jaguar lives in a variety of habitats, from dense jungle and scrubland to reed thickets and shoreline forests. It even inhabits open country, but needs a reliable supply of water as well as sufficient cover in the form of long grass or rocky outcrops to hunt successfully.
- The jaguar and the leopard are the only big cats which do not roar.
- Jaguars are excellent swimmers and are quite at home in the water. It also hunts successfully in rivers, catching frogs, turtles and small alligators in the shallows, or swiping at passing fish while clinging to an overhanging branch.
- Males are solitary animals until breeding season. However, it is the female who rears the young on her own. The cubs stay with the mother until they are two years old and a year later they will be sexually mature, although the male does not breed successfully until it is four years old.
- All-black coloured jaguars are not uncommon in a litter. Mixed litters are often born to mixed parents.
- Amazon Indians have told the story of jaguars emerging from the forest to play with children.
- Loss of habitat to farming and over-hunting for its fur and to protect live-stock present the greatest threats to the jaguar.
- Type: Mammal
- Diet: Carnivore: Ground-dwelling mammals, livestock, fish, small reptiles and amphibians
- Life Span in the wild: 12-15 years
- Size: Head and body: 1.5-1.8m, Tail: 70-91cm
- Weight: Male 57-113kg, Female: 46-91kg
- Habitat: Includes the rain forests of South and Central America, open, seasonally flooded wetlands, and dry grassland terrain
- Range: South and Central America
- Scientific name: Panthera onca