Description: The Beautiful Jaguar has yellowish-brown fur above and white fur below. It has spots throughout its body. Unlike the similar leopard, the Jaguar’s spots often have small spots inside them. Jaguars vary in size depending on location, but are easily the largest cats found wild in the Western Hemisphere. They range from about 80 to over 150 pounds. Jaguars found in the dense jungles of Amazonia are generally smaller and darker than those found in more open areas. The darker fur provides excellent camouflage for hunting Jaguars. The Melanistic (Black) Jaguar has black fur with spots that are harder to distinguish.

Diet/Habits: The Jaguar is an extremely powerful carnivore. Depending on location, Jaguars may be crepuscular (active at dusk and dawn), nocturnal, or diurnal (active in the day). Jaguars eat a wide variety of prey from animals as large as cows and horses to deer and capybara to small animals such as armadillos, rodents, reptiles and fish. Jaguars have powerful jaws and often kill their prey with a single bite to the back of the skull. Jaguars are excellent climbers and swimmers and will drag monkeys, caiman, or turtles long distances to hide them in dense thickets. Jaguars are very solitary animals and defend territories from about 4 to 60 square miles, depending on habitat and the level of human disturbance in the area.

Young/Reproduction: Female Jaguars give to birth to 1 to 4 cubs after a gestation period of 93-105 days. Young Jaguars remain with their mothers for about two years.

Range/Habitat: Jaguars inhabit wet forests and jungles from central Mexico through most of South America. They once ranged north to the southern United States and are now fairly rare in areas north of Amazonia and northern and central portions of South America.

Status: Jaguar populations declined drastically in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Some reports have indicated that more then 18,000 of these great cats were killed each year during this time period for their beautiful coats. While Jaguars are still killed for their fur, the greatest threat against them is the continued destruction of their rainforest habitat, which results in the loss of prey and fragmentation of their population. Some nations have set aside preserves for Jaguars to live in. The Central American nation of Belize has established a 150 square miles portion of the Cockscomb Basin National Park as a Jaguar preserve. This area is home to about 200 jaguars – the largest concentration in the world. The World Wildlife Fund has additionally procured funds to establish reserves in crucial Jaguar habitat of the Amazon rainforest.

Watch this jaguar catch a baby crocodile

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