|Size||3.6-6 ft (112-185 cm) (body length)|
|Speed||37-50 mph (60-80 km/h) (short distances)|
|Weight||79-348 lb (36-158 kg)|
|Food||Deer, peccaries, tapir, pacas, cattle, fish, turtles|
|Habitat||South and Central America; rainforests|
|Scientific name||Panthera onca|
|Characteristics||Short, muscular legs; sometimes black coat|
The jaguar is the biggest feline predator in the USA. After the lion and the tiger it is the third biggest feline predator worldwide. It is a loner that goes hunting at night. Contrary to other big cats it loves to go for a swim and mostly lives near rivers and other waters.
The Jaguar is One of the “Big Four“
Jaguars, lions, tigers and leopards are the only big cats that are able to growl. This is why they are called the “Big Four”.
How Jaguars Hunt
Lions and cheetahs hunt during the day and run after their prey. Jaguars hunt at night. They sneak up to their prey for a surprise attack. Like all big cats, the jaguar has its specific tactics. The lion primarily suffocates its victim with its paw. The tiger bites it into the neck. The jaguar aims its attack at the back of the head.
Jaguars Love Water
Most big cats prefer to stay on land, e.g. lions, leopards and cheetahs. But the jaguar and the tiger love water. They go for a swim regularly to cool down or go hunting. Jaguars have often been seen “fishing" with their tail. They shortly put it into the water or sweep it over the water surface. This attracts hungry fish.
Escaping From a Jaguar
It is not easy to escape from a jaguar. Water is not safe. Even though the jaguar is rather heavy and bulky, it is able to climb trees, too. But normally, the jaguar does not go for humans. It only attacks if it feels cornered and threatened. It is rather the other way round: Humans are a much bigger and more lethal threat for the jaguar.
55 lb (25 kg) for Dinner
Jaguars can devour up to 55 lb (25 kg) at one got. For comparison: The average meal of a grown-up human being is about 0.8-1.1 lb (400-500 g). If you are very hungry you can also eat more of course. In 2014, Molly Schuyler from Nebraska (USA) set a world record in eating steaks: It took her only 3 minutes to gulp down 4.4 lb (2 kg) of steak. But this is still far away from 55 lb (25 kg).
The Jaguar as a God
The Maya worshipped a god called Tezcatlipoca. It wore the coat of a jaguar and was the god of the night sky, of the north, of war, of beauty and many other things. For the Aztecs, the jaguar was also special. Particularly well-trained warriors were called “jaguar warriors”. They wore elaborate jewelry and special outfits. “Yaguar”, the Indian word for “jaguar”, meant “Robber killing its prey with one single jump”.
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The Jaguar’s Fur Pattern
The coat of the jaguar is densely covered in black or dark brown rosettes which sometimes have one or more spots in the middle. Jaguars and leopards look very similar, but you can easily distinguish them. The leopard has the letters O and D in its name: o (= zero) and d (= dots).
The Jaguar has „Teeth of Steel”
The jaguar has the strongest set of teeth of all cats. It is even able to easily crack the shell of a tortoise.
Black Panther or Jaguar?
Normally the jaguar has a goldish yellow coat. Yet, many jaguars have a black coat instead. They are often called “black panthers”. The black panther is not an individual species, but indicates a jaguar or leopard with a black coat.
The IUCN has listed the jaguar as near threatened. The IUCN is an international organization that is committed to the protection of the environment and animal species. They also publish up the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The jaguar is threatened because of the ongoing destruction of the rainforest, which is the jaguar’s habitat. Jaguars are also being hunted because of their coat.
Jaguar babies are born after a gestation period of about 100 days. Normally, there are 1-4 young jaguars weighing 1.5-1.9 lb (700-900 g). They open their eyes after about two weeks and stay with their parents for 1-2 years.
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