Jaguar - Panthera onca
( Linnaeus, 1758 )



Jaguar Photo
Jaguar Location Map
South America
Jaguar Photo Jaguar Location Map South America

Subspecies: 9
Est. World Population: Unknown

IUCN Status: LOWER RISK - Least Concern

Body Length: 42 - 48 in
Tail Length: 18 - 30 in
Shoulder Height: 24 - 30 in
Weight: 95 - 250 lbs

Top Speed: Unknown
Jumping Ability: Unknown (Horizontal)

Life Span: 19 - 23 yrs in the Wild
Life Span: 20 - 25 yrs in Captivity

Sexual Maturity: 36 months (Females)
Sexual Maturity: 36 months (Males)
Litter Size: 1 - 4
Gestation Period: 93 - 110 days

Panthera onca reaches a length of 42 to 48 inches and a height of 24 to 30 inches. The tail of the jaguar is anywhere from 18-30 inches. Females range from 100 to 200 lbs. and males are typically 125 to 250 lbs. A jaguar cub weighs 25 to 32 ounces at birth.

Jaguars are tan with black rings and dots. It is also common for a jaguar to be completely black. Their appearance resembles that of the leopard, but the jaguar has a larger jaw and head and there are significant differences in the coats of the two species. The jaguar is also more heavily built with a stocky appearance and sturdy legs.

- Mexico
- Central America
- Mexico, Belize
- Mexico
- Amazon Rain Forest
- Southern Brazil
- Paraguay
- Peru, Equador

Jaguars live in a variety of habitats, from dense jungle and scrubland to reed thickets and shoreline forests. They sometimes will also live in open country , as long as the grass and rocks offer enough cover for hunting, and a reliable source of water is available.

Biomes: tropical rainforest, tropical scrub forest, tropical savanna & grasslands

Neotropical: Panthera onca ranges from the southwestern United States to Argentina. It can be found as far south as Patagonia.

Life Cycle:
The jaguar reaches sexual maturity at 3 years of age. It engages in non-seasonal mating in the tropical regions while in the extremes of the range the mating season is during early autumn. A mother gives birth to 1-4 cubs annually. Gestation lasts from 93-110 days. The cubs are blind at birth and do not leave the den for two weeks. They learn how to hunt after six months and stay with their mother for up to two years. The lifespan of the jaguar is 22 years.

Food & Hunting:
Panthera onca is carnivorous, feeding primarily on medium to alrge sized prey such as deer, peccaries, agoutis, and pacas. Water loving jaguars, found deep in the Amazonian region, commonly eat fish, frogs, turtles, and small alligators.

Panthera onca is a solitary animal. Male and female interaction only occurs during mating and the male leaves directly afterwards, leaving the female to raise her young alone. Jaguars are known to be able to survive within a circular territory of three miles in diameter. If food is scarce they will often need to roam over an area of 200 square miles in search of food. Jaguars are rapid runners, but tire quickly, and can climb trees well. They are also proficient swimmers and prefer areas with plenty of fresh water.

Panthera onca is composed of nine subspecies, all of which are threatened. Some are extinct except in zoos, where they breed successfully. The greatest threats to jaguars are overhunting for fur and the loss of habitat due to clearing of forests. Biologists find it difficult to study wild jaguars because of their reclusive nature and rarity. Most information on them comes from those held in captivity.

Similar Species:
Panthera pardus - Leopard

Other Details:
Jaguars have a reputation for being human-eaters. However, numerous stories of men being followed for miles through the forest by solitary jaguars may suggest that they are merely escorting them off their territory and not stalking them as prey. There are also stories from the Amazonian Indians that tell of jaguars emerging from the forest to play with village children.

Jaguars are revered in many indigenous American cultures. The Maya believed that the Jaguar, God of the Underworld, helped the sun to travel under the earth at night, ensuring its new rising every morning.

Jaguars have been demonstrated to act as keystone species in tropical ecosystems. Their predation on herbivorous and granivorous mammals helps to control their populations, thus positively impacting plant communities.

Jaguars will kill domestic animals when the forest is cleared for farmland. They are considered a menace to farmers.

Brakefield, Tom. Big Cats: Kingdom of Might. Stillwater, MN: Voyageur Press, 1993
Alderton, David. Wild Cats Of The World. New York: Facts on File, 1995
Nowak, Ronald. Walker's Mammals Of The World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999

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Database Last Updated: 31 Dec 1969

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