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Fact File

Continent: South America
Habitat: Rainforest, wetlands and dry grassland.
Weight and length: 84kg, 1.3m
Diet: Carnivore (eats meat)
Gestation: averages about 101 days
Number of Young: average of 2



Near Threatened


  • They are opportunistic feeders, and more than 85 species are known to make up their potential diet.
  • They have the highest bite strength relative to their size of all the big cats.
  • They are the only big cat to regularly kill their prey by piercing its skull.
  • They occupy “shifting territories” meaning they do not stay and protect one area.
  • Although jaguars resemble leopards, they act more like tigers. Both prefer highly dense forest and are sturdier in build as they hunt larger prey more often.
  • Jaguars have “rosettes” which are the pattern of their spots. These rosettes usually enclose another simple spot, unlike in leopards.
  • There are no subspecies of jaguar.


Panthera onca

Animals — Mammals — Carnivores — Felidae (cat family)

Jaguars are the largest cat species in the Americas, and the only Panthera species. The Panthera genus includes animals such as tigers, lions, snow leopards, and (the extinct) American lions.

These cats are active and hunt in the day or night, often from the ground but occasionally from height in the trees. They are strong swimmers and are known to hunt aquatic life such as fish and even crocodiles. They are not social animals, but are not territorial either, preferring to avoid each other, and communicate with grunts to do this if need be.

Jaguars have some extinct populations, and are classified as “near threatened” by the IUCN. This means their numbers are dropping and they are at some risk of extinction. As they strongly prefer rainforest habitat, deforestation is the biggest threat to the Jaguar. They are also shot on sight by some people who would prefer the Jaguar’s prey to themselves, or by farmers whose livestock has been killed by these animals.

Habitat: Rainforest, wetlands and dry grassland. Jaguars strongly prefer dense forest with water nearby.

Vital Statistics:
–Average weight: 84kg
–Average length: 1.3m

Life Expectancy:
In the wild up to: 12 years
In captivity up to: 28 years has been recorded, though 20 years is more normal.

Diet: Hunts animals mostly smaller than itself. They are carnivores so only eat meat. Jaguars are known to hunt many small mammals, reptiles, and ground nesting birds. They have been known to hunt tapirs and capybaras!

Distribution: Their largest population centre is in the Amazon basin, which is within Brazil and nearby countries. However, they once ranged from the southern USA through to Argentina and northern Brazil. Their populations in the USA, much of Mexico and El Salvador are now unfortunately extinct.