How do jaguars communicate?

Jaguars communicate primarily through the sounds that they make (vocalisations) and in addition through: urine spraying, scrapes i.e. claw marks on the ground and objects, and depositing their faeces in prominent locations. They use these communications to indicate their occupancy of their home ranges which is the territory that they occupy, which they call their home. It is believed that breeding jaguars tend to occupy exclusive ranges. However, in a study in one national park on the Brazil-Argentina border they found that the ranges overlapped but not in the core areas.

Jaguar Photo Showing Coat
Jaguar Photo Showing Coat. It appears that this male is sniffing another male’s urine on a tree trunk.
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Communication as to the presence of a jaguar is important under the circumstances. It avoids conflict and urine spraying is like a calling card. It tells other individuals when they’ve been there as a smell of urine deteriorates gradually. In Belize, one study found that there was an intense period of scent marking and scraping in areas of overlapping male home ranges.

There will also be appropriate body language in jaguar-to-jaguar encounters.

In addition to these physical marks and smells, the primary and best-known form of communication by the jaguar is roaring. One scientist, Perry, describes the Jaguar’s roar as “five or six repetitions of a short, sharp guttural uh, accelerating and crescending.”

Jaguar on the Prowl
Jaguar on the Prowl. Pic in public domain.

In the past, sport and trophy hunters would imitate the jaguar’s roar by grunting into gourds or shells. The sound served to draw the jaguar within range of the hunter’s gun or spear.

Both females and males roar and sometimes they engage in a competition of sorts when they counter-call to each other. This can last for as long as two hours. In one instance it was reported that four jaguars called back and forth.

How do Jaguars adapt to the rainforest?
Jaguar. Picture in the public domain.

Of course, the jaguar has more than this single form of vocal communication. I suspect that little is known about them, of which it is said there are 7-12 different types. There will be long-range calls and close calls between individuals. I cannot specify the actual sounds that they make because my reference book which is the best you can get does not list them. That’s why I have said that there is a dearth of information on these vocalisations.

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