One of the 5 Big Cats in this world, Jaguar is one of the most fascinating animals that lives on this planet. These obligate carnivores have earned the reputation of being excellent climbers, swimmers and crawlers. Oh, did we say that they know fishing? Yes, there are many such amazing Jaguar facts that you will find in this article. So, without further ado, let us begin…
Before we start…
Interesting Jaguar Facts: 1-3 | Naming and Ancestry
1. The word Jaguar originates from the Tupian (a language family of South America) word yaguara (meaning one which kills with a single leap). The word Panther originates from the Greek word pánthēr. In Mexican Spanish language, the Jaguar has a nickname called as el tigre.
2. The scientific name given by Carl Linnaeus (in 1758) to Jaguar was Felis onca. IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) clearly stated that there are no subspecies of the Jaguar.
3. Jaguars are the only member of the genus Panthera to live in the North and South America. Their scientific name is Panthera onca.
4. Studies show that all the five members of the Panthera genus and Clouded Leopard have a common ancestor. The Panthera genus evolved 2 to 3.8 millions years ago and the Jaguar diverged from the group around 1.5 million years ago. They reached Americas through Beringia or Bering Land Bridge from Asia in the Early Pleistocene epoch.
Interesting Jaguar Facts: 5-10 | Jaguar Physical Features
5. Their fur coat is either yellow or orange, and they have rosettes (spots which look like roses) all over the body. The ventral side of the body is covered with white fur. Their legs are short in comparison with other big cats.
6. They are the world’s third-largest cats and the largest cats to be found in the Americas (also called as the New World). From head to the tip of the tail, a Jaguar measures nearly 6 to 8 feet or nearly 3 meters.
7. Though they look similar to the Leopards they are bigger and stronger than the Leopards. The rosettes present on the Jaguar are bigger and sparse (compared to Leopards).
8. The Jaguars that live in forests are smaller and darker than the ones which live in open woods.
9. Like other cats, male Jaguars weigh more than the females. The weight of the male Jaguar is usually around 57 to 113 kilograms or 126 to 250 lbs and the females weigh nearly 45 to 90 kilograms or 100 to 200 lbs. The average height of a Jaguar is 25 to 30 inches or 62 to 76 centimeters.
10. Jaguars have the largest eyes in proportionate with the head size. The eye color is usually golden or reddish yellow.
Interesting Jaguar Facts: 11-15 | Physical Features, Habit, Black Jaguar
11. They are extremely good at climbing, swimming and crawling and prefer staying near the waters. Jaguars enjoy fishing. These big cats even use their tails like a fishing cord and fish.
12. Their jaws are very strong but a little smaller than Tigers and Lions. When the force of the Jaguar’s bite is adjusted for the body size, it has the highest bite force leaving behind Lions and Tigers (Clouded Leopards also has the highest bite force).
13. They are not only active in the night time but are also active during the daytime.
14. Black Panthers or Black Jaguars are actually melanistic Leopards and Jaguars. They don’t belong to any different subspecies or species. According to some studies, natural selection prefers melanistic Panthers over normal Panthers. They are found in the South American region only.
15. Though extremely rare than the Black Panthers or Black Jaguars, albino Jaguars are also present which are called as White Panthers.
Interesting Jaguar Facts: 16-18 | Jaguar Habitat and Distribution of Jaguars
16. Jaguars are present in countries like Argentina, Bolivia, Costa Rica, French Guiana, Honduras, Panama, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela, United States of America. They are usually seen in forests, swamps, and woodlands but sometimes they are present even in desert areas like Arizona.
17. Earlier Jaguar habitat included southern states of America (Texas to California) but because of hunting and poaching the Jaguars are nearly wiped out from these areas. Presently, the northern range of the Jaguars is Mexico (Sonora state).
18. The Jaguars are the apex predators (no animal preys on them) in their ecosystem. It is also considered as a keystone species (species which has a large impact on the ecosystem because of its numbers).
Interesting Jaguar Facts: 19-24 | Reproduction in Jaguars, Lifespan, Territories
19. Male Jaguars reach sexual maturity at the age of 3 to 4 years whereas the female Jaguars reach sexual maturity when they are 2 years old.
20. The estrous cycle of females is of 6 to 7 days. The Jaguars mate all-round the year. Female Jaguars take complete care of cubs because the males part ways after mating.
21. The gestation period (duration of pregnancy) is around 93 to 105 days. The litter size may range from one to four but usually, it is two.
22. Male Jaguars tend to kill the cubs just like the Tigers. Hence, the females don’t really tolerate male Jaguars being around them after the birth.
23. As with the other cats, the cubs are born blind and are weaned at 3 weeks. The cubs have blue color eyes. The cubs stay with the mother for two years and then leave.
24. The average lifespan of a Jaguar in the wild is around 12 to 15 years whereas, in the captivity, the lifespan goes up to 23 years.
25. Like all the other cats, the Jaguars are also solitary by nature. The only exception is when the female is raising the cubs.
26. Female territories are half the size of the male territories and may overlap (male territories don’t overlap at all). They mark their territories with urine or feces.
Interesting Jaguar Facts: 27 | Vocalizations of Jaguars
27. Like Tigers and Lions, the Jaguars can roar too! The other vocalizations of Jaguar are mewing, grunting etc. They are crepuscular hunters (hunt during the dawn and dusk). They are highly energetic and are extremely good at camouflaging.
Interesting Jaguar Facts: 28-32 | Hunting Habits and Preys
28. Jaguar is an obligate carnivore (survives only on meat). It is also an opportunistic hunter (eats dead animals also). It hunts nearly 87 species.
29. The way it kills the prey is different from the other wild cats. Jaguar bites the skull between the ears which will injure the brain to a great extent. With the highest bite force, it can crush turtle’s armor without any difficulty.
30. It preys on almost every animal except for black caimans (alligatorid crocodilian). Black bears also fall prey to the Jaguars. Some of the preys are deer, tapirs, dogs, anacondas (sometimes), zorros, birds, mice, monkeys, turtles etc.
31. It also bites the throat and kills the prey which is typical of the Panthera genus members. It is so powerful that it can drag a 385-kilogram leatherback sea turtle or can drag two horses at once to a spot where it can devour them peacefully. For a domesticated dog, a swipe of the Jaguar’s paw is enough to kill it.
32. They are ambush hunters. They don’t chase the prey but wait and attack suddenly. Their ability to ambush is unrivaled in the whole of the animal kingdom. They rarely attack humans but this has been increasing lately.
Interesting Jaguar Facts: 33-34 | Threats to Jaguar
33. The population of Jaguar is falling rapidly. It has nearly lost its northern habitat (USA). In the rest of Jaguar habitat, they are being hunted and there is competition with humans for food.
34. Deforestation in Jaguar habitat is another reason for the decline in their population. In the 1960s, nearly 15,000 Jaguars were killed every year (as per Wikipedia).
Interesting Jaguar Facts: 35-37 | Jaguar Conservation
35. IUCN listed Jaguar as Near Threatened in its Red List. Today, trade of any body part of the Jaguar is strictly prohibited. Jaguar hunting is also banned in many countries.
36. For the conservation of the Jaguars, Jaguar Conservation Units (JCU – areas which are important for the conservation of the Jaguars) were determined in the year 2000. As of today, there are 51 JCUs. Some of them are Venezuela Llanos, Sierra de Tamaulipas, Sierra Madre of Mexico etc.
37. It is considered as an umbrella species (species which when conserved will indirectly help in protecting other species so that the ecosystem remains stable) and hence conservation is very important.
Interesting Jaguar Facts: 38-40 | Jaguar in Popular Culture
38. In Central and South America (pre-Columbian), Jaguar was considered as the sign of strength and power.
39. The Aztecs had Jaguar Knights and depicted Jaguar as the representative of soldier or king. Mayan civilization thought that Jaguars helps living people communicate with the dead. They also believed that the Jaguars protected the royal family.
40. Not only during the ancient times, Jaguar is still used as the symbol of power. It is Guyana’s national animal and it is also seen on its coat of arms. Brazilian Real (banknotes of the country Brazil) also depict Jaguar.
Jaguar Fun Fact
Eyesight of Jaguar is 6 times better than the eyesight of the human during night times. According to the fossil studies, Jaguars of the ancient period were bigger than the Jaguars of the present time.
Image Credit: All images used are taken from Wikipedia and are under a Creative Commons License. The images are owned by their respective creators.