Jaguar Natural History
The jaguar is the 3rd largest cat in the world after tigers and lions and is the largest cat in Central and South America standing 76cm at the shoulder and weighing up to 160kg. However, females tend to be smaller than males.
Habitat and Distribution
They have a wide range extending from Mexico down to Argentina and the Brazilian Amazon basin.
The lifespan of a jaguar in the wild is 12-15 years but in captivity they can reach up to 28 years of age.
Jaguars are strictly carnivores and make formidable hunters. They prey on tapir, caiman, large snakes, sloths, primates, birds and deer in the wild. They mostly hunt from the ground but will also pounce from a tree and unlike most other big cats they enjoy the water and will fish in streams.
Groups and Breeding
These large cats are solitary animals which live and hunt alone, except during mating season and males will aggressively protect his home range from other males. This range is between 19 to 53 square miles.
Mating season can occur all year round and the mother will give birth to 1-4 kittens after a gestation period of 90-110 days. The kittens will stay with their mother for up to a year and a half.
The number of jaguars in the wild is rapidly declining and they are registered as ‘near threatened’ on the IUCN list of threatened species. This is mainly due to the extensive deforestation of their habitat across Central and South America. Although it is illegal to hunt this species in the wild (except for Guyana and Ecuador) they continue to be hunted for their fur.
The name panther is an American name for a puma or cougar and even though the jaguar is not related to the puma the black ones are still often referred to as black panthas.
The Jaguars During Your Day Out in Kent
At Wingham Wildlife Park we have two jaguars which can be seen next to other large cats such as lions, pumas and cheetahs. The black jaguar is a female named Luna and our tanned jaguar is a male named Loki. Even black jaguars have spots called rosettes and Luna is no exception to this, her rosettes are easiest to spot when she is laying in the sun.
Both jaguars are fed horse meat on the bone, chicken, rabbit and occasionally fish and goat. In the winter they are fed larger portions to help them bulk up and keep warm.