Scientific name: Panthera onca
Conservation status: Near Threatened (Decreasing populations)
Lifespan: 12 – 15 years (In the wild)
Trophic level: Carnivorous
Mass: Adults 56 – 96 kg
More about Jaguars
Jaguars have long occupied an important place in human cultures. Indigenous communities across the hemisphere have revered the cat as a symbol of spiritual power. Shorter and more compact than other cats, this creature is a skilled predator that will hunt from trees and in the water as well as on land.
Jaguar Facts & Tidbits
- They range from five to eight feet in length.
- Jaguars are the only terrestrial animal known to eat sea turtles, which has been documented on green turtle nesting beaches.
- Shamans are believed to be able to become jaguars in some indigenous communities.
- Jaguars are the only big cat living in the Western Hemisphere.
- Female jaguars can begin reproducing at two years old and the males between three and four years. Young jaguars will stay in the den up until about six months. Their average life span is roughly twelve to fifteen years.
Historically, these cats lived from southwestern U.S. through all of Central America and most of South America, reaching as far as southern Argentina.
They currently occupy only about 60 percent of their historic range and are considered extinct in El Salvador and Uruguay. Jaguars still live in Mexico though in a much smaller area and are rarely found in the U.S.
IUCN Status: Near Threatened / Population Trend: Decreasing
In addition to the threats currently facing these cats, their numbers were reduced from intense hunting during the 1960’s and 1970’s with up to 18,000 killed per year. This threat was halted when in 1973 when the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) made the trade in their pelts illegal.
Photo Credit: Catherine Downie, Dreamstime.