Categories: Jaguarundi

Are there jaguarundi in Arizona?

If you are lucky enough to see a jaguarundi in Arizona it will be an escaped captive animal. It will not be a genuine wild cat living in the wild in that state of America.

Is the jaguarundi in Arizona? No. Map: PoC based on IUCN Red List map.

The most up-to-date map of the distribution of the jaguarundi on planet Earth tells me that this small wild cat species – about the size of a large domestic cat – is present in Mexico but, as you can see, it’s range falls well short of America and it is gradually being diminished which is the usual situation for all the wild cat species.

Jaguarundi. Photo: IUCN Red List.

Florida

There are occasional sightings of jaguarundi in America particularly in Florida. There are lots of private zoos in America and it is likely that these are escaped captive animals which may survive quite well in places like Florida. The primary prey will be rats and mice of which I’m sure there is a plentiful supply in Florida.

In 2002, the book Wild Cats Of The World (a wonderful book) tells us that the “jaguarundi’s range extends from southern Texas through the coastal lowlands of Mexico, southward through Central America, and into South America east of the Andes to northern Argentina”.

I have a book on the small wild cats and the author states that, “There also has been a wild population in Florida since the 1940s”. They don’t provide a reference to that information. I believe that of all the US states, it is most likely that if this wild cat species is living in the wild in America it will be in Florida where a colony may have been founded from escaped captive animals. But that is pure speculation and I can’t find any hard evidence to support it.

Arizona and Texas

It is surprising to note that they refer to the presence of this cat in Texas. The book was published in 2002, 18 years ago at the time of this article. The authors state that, “it’s distribution reportedly extended into southern Arizona, but there are no recent confirmed sightings from that state”. There were also doubts as to whether it was present in Texas. Once again they report that no specimens have been seen in that US state seen since 1952. There is a record of a road-killed animal being found in 1986. Despite searches and trapping efforts which were extensive, “no additional animals have been seen”.

We conclude therefore that the jaguarundi does not exist in the wild in the United States of America as at the date of this post.

If readers of this article want full references in detail for this information then please write a comment and I will respond promptly. In the meantime be assured that the source of the information is excellent.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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