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Description of Jaguar

´╗┐Among big cats, jaguars, much larger than leopards, are exceeded in size only by lions and tigers. Males weigh from 125 to 250 pounds, are 6 to 9 feet long (including a tail up to 2.5 feet long), and stand twenty-four to thirty inches tall at the shoulder; females tend to be 20 percent smaller. Jaguar heads are massive and rounded; their bodies compact and heavily muscled. Individuals living in densely forested areas of theAmazon basin are significantly smaller than those inhabiting open terrain. Tawny or yellow, with black rings and spots, jaguar coats resemble those of the leopard; however, jaguar coat rosettes are larger and usually contain black spots in their centers. Examples of melanism occur in Amazon regions, where jaguars are often called black panthers.

Behavior

Jaguar litters usually contain one to four cubs, which remain with their mother for eighteen months to two years while learning how to hunt. Other than during mating periods, adults live solitary lives, patrolling their own distinctly marked territories. Jaguar hunting ranges vary in size fromfive square miles, where prey is abundant, to two hundred square miles, where it is scarce. Male territories usually overlap the smaller ranges of several females. Jaguars are crepuscular hunters, preferring dim light in which to stalk and surprise victims by leaping on their backs. The name jaguar comes from the Guarani word yaguara, meaning "wild beast that can kill its prey in a single bound." Large eyes and sensitive vibrissae permit jaguars to maneuver in the dark. They are opportunistic hunters, taking armadillos, peccaries, deer, capybaras, anteaters, caimans, turtles, and fish. Jaguars possess the most powerful bite among big cats; large canine teeth easily crush skulls and penetrate armadillo armor or turtle shells. Sharp carnassial teeth and rasplike papillae soon clean their victims' bones.

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Photo Gallery of Jaguar