20 facts about the jaguarundi

Photo by jindrich_photographe on 500px. This is a quite a mean looking cat.
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Here are 20 facts about the jaguarundi. The intention is to keep things short and concise for ease of reading and quickness of learning.

  1. As at 2002, little was known about the jaguarundi. There is still much to learn. The experts have had difficulty in classifying this small wild cat species taxonomically as it differs from all the other small South American cats in many respects.
  2. In terms of behaviour it is similar in some ways to the mountain lion.
  3. The jaguarundi has an unusual chromosome pattern and physically it looks a bit odd. It hardly looks like a cat at all. It has an elongated, low-slung body, which looks a bit like the body of a marten, weasel or otter. The legs are short and the body long and slender. The tail is relatively long. Its rounded head is slim and short with widely separated ears.
  4. Its body is covered with a ticked tabby coat. It can be grey or ashy grey and sometimes buff to brownish black and occasionally all-black.
  5. You will find the jaguarundi as far north as Mexico and as far south as southern Argentina. In short, its distribution is Mexico, Central and Southern America. Some people think this cat lives in America but the experts say that it doesn’t. If you see one, and you might, in the wild, it’s probably an escaped pet or an escaped jaguarundi from a private zoo of some sort.
  6. In the wild you will find them from sea level to elevations as high as 3200 m. They occupy a wide range of habitats from semi-arid thorn forest to wet grassland.
  7. They are active at all times of day and night. They prefer, however, to hunt during the day. Their coat colouring indicates a daytime lifestyle. The few instances when they have been radio collar tagged indicated that they are more active during daytime.
  8. They prefer to hunt on the ground but they are agile climbers and can move with ease along branches.
  9. As to hunting, they can spring 6 feet off the ground to swot at birds and sometimes investigate a noise in a bush while standing in a tripod position. It is believed that they mainly feed on small prey weighing less than 1 kg which will include rodents, birds and reptiles. Sometimes they attack and eat large animals such as rabbits, opossums and armadillos.
  10. Most observations of jaguarundis in the wild are of solitary individuals. When a male and female are together the female is in oestrus so they are together for mating. Although in the early days of observation of this cat it was thought that they lived in couples.
  11. The size of the home range is believed to be quite large measuring 88-100 km² for a male. In a study in Belize, a female had a home range measuring 20 km². They move extensively throughout their range averaging 6.6 km a day.
  12. As to the calls they make, they have an unusual and wide vocal repertoire; at least 13 distinct calls had been recorded which include purring, screaming, whistling, chattering and yapping and a wah-wah call.
  13. In terms of marking territory they make scrapes with their hind feet. Scraping to mark territory is sometimes accompanied by urination. They leave their faeces uncovered and rub their heads on objects to deposit scent.
  14. It is believed that in Mexico they have two breeding seasons annually or a single breeding season during autumn in the North of Mexico. Captive jaguarundis have given birth in January, June, August through October.
  15. Oestrus lasts for 3-5 days and the oestrus cycle lasts for approximately 53 days. When the female is sexually receptive, she rolls on her back and scent marks more often. In an enclosure she will vocalise faintly while depositing urine marks around it. During mating they behave in a similar way to domestic cats with the male grabbing the female’s neck in his teeth and the female screaming loudly when the male removes his penis.
  16. Pregnancy lasts 70-75 days. The litter size is from 1-4. In captivity the average litter size was 1.83 kittens (13 litters) and 2.33 kittens (3 litters).
  17. In the wild they make dens in dense thickets, hollow trees and overgrown ditches and thick grassy clumps.
  18. The mother does not leave her offspring alone for any length of time and as they grow up, she brings them birds and guinea pigs. By the time they are six weeks old the young can eat solid food.
  19. In captivity they reach sexual maturity at different ages from about 1.4-2 or 3 years. In zoos, jaguarundi have lived for more than 10 years.
  20. In terms of the possibility of their extinction in the wild, they are considered to be of ‘Least Concern’ under the Red List Criteria. The threats to its survival in the wild include: beeing caught in traps set for commercially valuable species, low-level hunting pressure, habitat loss and fragmentation especially to large-scale agriculture and pasture. And sometimes there is retaliatory killing of the jaguarundi when they kill poultry.

Click on the image below to read some facts for kids:

Jaguarundi Facts For Kids
Jaguarundi Facts For Kids
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