Genus & Species Panthera Onca
Shoulder Height: 17-30 in. (45-76 cm)
Head and Body Length: 44-95 in. (112-241 cm)
Tail Length: 17-29 in. (43-75 cm)
Weight:125-348 lbs. (56 - 159 kg)
Gestation: 93-110 days
Litter size: 1-4
Age at sexual maturity:
Male: 3-4 years
Female: 2-3 years
Life Span: 22 years
Speed: 40 - 45 mph
The background of the coat is usually an orange-yellow in colour, with numerous rings or rosettes on the flanks and spots on the head and neck. It is possible to distinguish this species from a leopard by the presence of spots inside its rosettes.The jaguar is stockier and taller than the leopard, and its rosettes are larger. Their face is broader and longer than the leopard's as well.
The jaguar's habitat ranges from the rain forests of South and Central America to marshy and even desert terrain in Mexico, but they are rarely seen in mountainous regions. Known for their strong swimming and climbing abilities, they often prefer to live by rivers, in swamps, and in dense forest with thick cover for stalking prey. They are the largest predator in their range. Jaguars, on rare occasions, are seen as far north as the southwestern United States, particularly in Arizona and New Mexico. The historic jaguar range actually extended as far north as southern California and western Texas As recently as 2004 wildlife officials in Arizona have photographed and documented jaguars in the southern parts of the state. Presently it is unclear whether recent sightings indicate whether there is a permanent population developing in the Southwest or these cats are simply transients straying over the border from Sonora, Mexico. However, jaguars are a protected species in the United States under the Endangered Species Act.
Prefers thick forest or swamps with good cover and water access, although known to hunt in arid open areas when necessary.
S. W. USA, N Mexico,Central and South America to N. Argentina
The world population in the wild is estimated to be around 12,000, in the US, Mexico, Central America, with around a further 8-12,000 in South America
The last taxonomic delineation of the jaguar subspecies was performed by Pocock in 1939. Based on geographic origins and skull morphology, he recognized eight subspecies. However, he did not have access to sufficient specimens to critically evaluate all subspecies, and he expressed doubt about the status of several. Later consideration of his work suggested only three subspecies should be recognized.
Recent studies have also failed to find evidence for well-defined subspecies, which are no longer recognized. Larson (1997) studied the morphological variation in the jaguar and showed there is clinal north–south variation, but also the differentiation within the supposed subspecies is larger than that between them, and thus does not warrant subspecies subdivision.A genetic study by Eizirik and coworkers in 2001 confirmed the absence of a clear geographical subspecies structure, although they found that major geographical barriers, such as the Amazon River, limited the exchange of genes between the different populations.A subsequent, more detailed study confirmed the predicted population structure within the Colombian jaguars.
Pocock's subspecies divisions are still regularly listed in general descriptions of the cat.Seymour grouped these in three subspecies.
1. Panthera onca onca: Venezuela through the Amazon, including
P. o. peruviana (Peruvian jaguar): Coastal Peru
2. P. o. hernandesii (Mexican jaguar'): Western Mexico – including
P. o. centralis (Central American jaguar): El Salvador to Colombia
P. o. arizonensis (Arizonan jaguar): Southern Arizona to Sonora, Mexico
P. o. veraecrucis: Central Texas to southeastern Mexico
P. o. goldmani (Goldman's jaguar): Yucatán Peninsula to Belize and Guatemala
3. P. o. palustris (the largest subspecies, weighing more than 135 kg or 300 lb)The Pantanal regions of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, along the Paraguay River into Paraguay and northeastern Argentina.
The Mammal Species of the World continues to recognize nine subspecies, the eight subspecies above and additionally P. o. paraguensis
Jaguars once ranged from Southwestern and Southeastern United States -- in 1950 some were still found in Arizona -- to Central and South America. Today it is thought to be extinct in the United States and very rare in Mexico, Central America, and eastern Brazil. Jaguars can still be found in Patagonia.
Peccaries (wild pigs) and capybaras are the most important foods to the jaguar, but will feed upon deer, sloth, cayman, tapir, fresh water fish, and smaller animals. Occasionally prey on domestic livestock.
Jaguars are solitary hunters that do not associate with one another outside the breeding season. They typically take large prey, their very strong jaw equips them to hunt deer, tapirs, and peccaries, but they are great opportunists and will take anything from frogs and mice to birds, fish, and domestic livestock. A jaguar will usually bite and pierce the skull of its prey, thereby killing it and demonstrating the strength of the jaguar's jaw muscles. A jaguar's bite can pierce the shell of a turtle. Jaguars can run quite quickly, but do not have much endurance and rarely engage in long chases.
South American name "jaguara" is said to mean "carnivore that overcomes prey with a single bound." Jaguars stalk and ambush their kill, often dragging the carcass to a safe spot some distance away before eating it. They swim and climb very well. Jaguars do not roar, but they do snarl and growl. They are solitary animals and some males have been known to wander for miles (as many as 500 miles) for no known reason. Jaguars den in caves and canyons, and need to be fairly close to a source of fresh water.
Jaguars are solitary animals, like most cats, and only come together to mate. Females become sexually mature at 2-3 years, and males at 3-4 years. Females remain in estrus for 22 - 65 days. Mating is usually non-seasonal, but the cubs are more likely to be born in the wet season, corresponding to increase in prey. The female jaguar attracts the attention of area males by leaving scent signals on trees in the form of urine. Chemicals in the urine signal to the male that the female is ready to mate. When the male finds the female, they stay together only for a few days, just long enough to copulate. The male jaguar's penis, like all other cats, has a bone-like structure in it called the baculum, and the outside of the penis is covered in sharp backwards facing spines. These serve to stimulate the female to ovulate, as cats are mating-induced ovulators. Both males and females will mate with multipe partners during mating season.After a gestation period of 93-110 days, the female jaguar gives birth to 1-4 cubs. They begin to hunt on their own at 6 months of age. They remain with their mother for two years before leaving to start life on their own. The female will not have another litter until all the cubs from the previous litter have left. Jaguars have been known to live for 22 years in the wild.