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Panthera onca

The jaguar is the largest cat in the Americas. According to one Indian myth, the jaguar acquired its spotted coat by daubing mud on its body with its paws. Translated, the jaguar’s name means, “a beast that kills its prey with a single bound”. The Jaguar has a compact body, a broad head and powerful jaws. Its coat is normally yellow and tan, but the color can vary from reddish brown to black. The spots on the coat are more solid and black on the head and neck and become larger rosette-shaped patters along the side and back of the body.

jaguar picture

Height 2 ¼ – 2 ½ feet
Length 5 ½ – 8 feet from nose to tip of tail
Weight 100-250 lbs

Lifespan 15-20 years


Deer, peccary, crocodilessnakes, monkeys, deer, sloths, tapirs, turtles, eggs, frogs, fish and anything else it can catch.


The total number of jaguars throughout their range is unknown.


The jaguar can be found in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas and from Mexico all the way down to Patagonia. It is rare in the United States and is a federal endangered species.


The jaguar makes its home in a wide-variety of habitats including deciduous forests, rainforests, swamps, pampas grasslands and mountain scrub areas. They are solitary animals and live and hunt alone, except during mating season. The male’s home range is between 19-53 square miles. The female’s home range is between 10-37 square miles. A male jaguar may share his home range with several females. He will aggressively protect his home range from other males to ensure that any females in his territory mate only with him.

The jaguar hunts mostly on the ground, but it sometimes climbs a tree and pounces on its prey from above. It has very powerful jaws and sharp teeth and usually kills its prey with one crushing bite to the skull. Unlike most big cats, the jaguar loves the water. It often swims, bathes and plays in streams and pools. It will also hunt for fish in the water.

Scientists classify cats by their voice boxes. All members of the big cat family can roar, but other cats can’t.  The jaguar makes a roar that sounds like a deep, chesty cough.

Mating Season May occur year-round
Gestation 90-110 days
Litter size 1-4 kittens
Kittens stay with their mother from 1-1 ½ years.