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Love Potion # 9


All Images by
 Christina Bush 

Scientific Name:  Panthera Onca

The mighty jaguar once roamed from Argentina in South America all the way up to the Grand Canyon in Arizona.  Today they have been almost completely eliminated from the United States and are endangered through-out their range, which stretches down to Patagonia in South America. 

Defenders of Wildlife estimates that only around 15,000 jaguars now remain in the wild.  In comparison, there are around 50,000 leopards.

The jaguar is called the "New World" cat because it is the only large feline that can be found in the Americas, the "New World" vs. leopards that are found across Africa and Asia, the "Old World". 

The eyes of the jaguar are a striking gold and green combination that appear to be lined with black eyeliner.  They are simply mesmerizing to look at.

The jaguar has long been poached for its distinctively unique and strikingly beautiful patterned fur.  

The name "Jaguar" is said to come from the Native American word "yaguar", which means "he who kills with one leap".  The South American name "Jaguara" is said to mean "carnivore that overcomes prey with a single bound". 

The jaguar along with the snow leopard, tiger, lion and leopard make up the five "Big Cats" that belong to the Panthera genus.  The jaguar is the third largest cat in the world behind the tiger and lion, but their jaws are said to have the most powerful bite of any cat in the world and the 4th most powerful in the entire animal kingdom. 

In Brazil, the jaguar is listed by IBAMA (The Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources) as threatened with extinction.  It is legally protected by the majority of the countries where it is found.  Only in Bolivia is hunting of jaguars still permitted and the species has no legal protection in Ecuador and Guyana. 

The diet of the jaguar consists of deer, crocodiles, snakes, monkeys, sloths, tapirs, turtles, eggs, frogs, fish armadillos and pretty much anything else they can catch.  

The habitat ranges from rainforest to seasonally flooded swamp areas, grasslands, thorny woodlands and dry deciduous forest. 

The weight of the jaguar typically ranges between 125 and 175 pounds, with the largest males reaching up to 230 pounds. 

Jaguars are often mistaken for leopards because of their similar appearance and distinguishing rosette covered coats.  Jaguars live only in South and Central America, leopards roam across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the Amur region of Russia. 

This powerful cat will either crush the spinal column and suffocate its victim or bite straight through its skull, preferring to stalk and ambush its prey rather than chase it.  

Its beautiful spotted fur coat was once a sought-after commodity for the fashion industry.  Fortunately, most of the world has now stopped selling it. 

Jaguars have a lifespan of 12-15 years in the wild and have been known to live up to 30 years in captivity.  

Due to the large size and dominant nature of the Jaguar, there are no other wild animals that are known to consider it as prey.

The primary challenges these cats face are massive conversions of habitat for human economic interest, being shot or poisoned by livestock owners concerned with ongoing potential losses.

Some other common Spanish names for the Jaguar are:  Tigre Real, Tigre Americano, Otorongo, Yaguar, Yaguarete

Unlike most big cats, jaguars love the water and often swim, bathe, play and hunt for fish in streams and ponds.  

Jaguars hunt mostly on the ground, but sometimes will climb a tree and pounce on its prey from above.  

Like all members of the big cat family, jaguars can roar but not purr.  His roar sounds like a deep, chesty cough.

Jaguars spend most of their time resting in the safety of the trees or hunting in the dense undergrowth.  They love being in close proximity to water such as floodplains and slow moving rivers, which is very rare for felines.  This cat, however, is an excellent swimmer.

Jaguars are solitary animals that live alone.  They typically only socialize during mating season, then its back to roaming alone.

The jaguar weighs twice as much on average as the leopard and is much more powerful.  His jaws can impose 2,000 pounds of pressure and his claws can rip and tear prey to shreds in a flash.  His bite is so strong that it can pierce the shell of a turtle.  He is, without a doubt, the ultimate feline and predator.

Cubs are born blind and gain their site after about two weeks.

Jaguars are at the top of the food chain & are exclusively carnivores.

Studies of the diet of the jaguar include 85 species of natural prey.

A jaguar's canines can puncture the skull of large mammalian prey and the cat can easily consume large reptiles as well.

Although 8 variations of the jaguar have been recognized, analysis finds no support for the existence of discrete sub-species.  

Their jaws are powerful enough to deliver 1350 psi (pounds per square inch) and puncture straight through both the skull and brain.

 Depictions of jaguars are found in the ruins all along Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, where this cat was a chief figure in religious rites.


Defenders of Wildlife
The Jaguar Conservation Fund
Wildlife Conservation Society
World Animal Foundation
San Diego Zoo
IUCN Red List