Jaguarundi sighting in western Massachusetts

I recently received an interesting email from John Goodnough who lives in western Massachusetts, USA. His email is immediately below, word for word. John is a thoughtful person and in my view his conclusions are correct. My response to his email is set out below John’s.

Hi, I live in western Massachusetts. I have a Wyze cam installed outside my house to record wildlife because our backyard is a “thruway” for animals passing in the area. We live above a river and adjacent to a mixture of meadows, fields, hedgerows and forest stands. Lots of black bears, deer, bobcats, etc.

Recently we recorded a video of this very unusual animal passing in front of the camera around 2:00 a.m. It looks totally feline to me, especially when it springs forward and uses its tail as a counterbalance. Based on the illuminated Locust tree about ¼ of the way in from the right side of the image, which I have measured, and the placement of the animal in front of it (note the still frame) I estimate the animal to be approximately 25 to 30 inches body length, and an additional 16 to 20 inches tail length. I also am attaching two still frames of the animal, and another of a male buck deer that walked in front of the camera in almost the exact same spot a few nights later. The deer I have observed in daylight previously and is average size, about 5 to 5.5 feet long from nose to flattened tail. If you compare the feline image to the deer, you’ll see the feline is much larger than a house cat. And the tail is proportionately longer than a house cat.

I do not believe it’s a Mountain Lion or any juvenile version of one. The head is rounded and the ears appear to be quite small or rounded…not pointed. The tail is long and slender, but not skinny.

I submitted this video to the Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife office locally and they declined to even guess what it might be…other than to say it clearly appears feline. Since Mountain Lions are considered extinct in Massachusetts, they can’t even speak the name as a possible. Ironically Mountain Lions have been observed a number of times in Connecticut in recent years…but no photos.

The only feline I’ve been able to identify so far that fits this animal size and body coloration (dark fur appears light gray in infrared) is a jagurundi, but their range is really too far away from us, unless this is a captive animal that has escaped from someone who owned an illegal pet. I know a Eurasian Lynx was captured in Central Islip, NY this week and it was considered to be an escaped pet.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Regards, John Goodnough

Hi John, thanks for your email which I enjoyed reading and the video which I enjoyed watching. I am 90% and more certain that this is a jaguarundi. I make that assessment on the basis primarily of the overall size of the cat which is slightly bigger than a domestic cat and also, importantly, the length of the tail. I think the tail length is very important. This tail definitely looks noticeably longer than the average tail of a typical random-bred domestic or feral cat. And the jaguarundi has a tail of exactly the same length. And the body is quite slender and tubular. This also matches the jaguarundi. Everything about it points to an escaped pet jaguarundi in my assessment.

RELATED: Jaguarundi – a comprehensive and fully illustrated page

Jaguarundi in captivity
Jaguarundi in captivity. Photo: as per image.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Of course, I could be wrong (unlikely) but it is certainly not a puma as you state and it does not look like a domestic or feral cat and therefore by default it has to be a jaguarundi. And the bobcat, of course, is completely different in terms of body conformation. What I will do is I will do a page on this and embed your video into that page and I will link to it in a further email to you.

Thank you once again showing the video and for writing to me. Attached is a picture of a jaguarundi.

P.S. ‘Pet’ jaguarundi are not that uncommon in the US because it is ‘exotic’. There is a fascination with exotic pets.

Yours, Michael

Below are some more pages on the jaguarundi:

2 thoughts on “Jaguarundi sighting in western Massachusetts”

  1. I agree it looks like a Jaguarundi, especially the head and tail. Back in 2019 people say they saw one. I wonder could it be the same cat? They turn a deep red as they age.


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