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Jaguarundi

JaguarundiJaguarundis move in a quick weasel-like manner. Their coat is a solid color; either rusty-brown or charcoal gray. Jaguarundis hunt during early morning and evening. They hunt mostly on the ground, but also climb trees easily. Jaguarundis have been seen springing into the air to capture prey. Historical accounts from Mexico suggest that Jaguarundis are also good swimmers and enter the water freely.

Zoological name: Herpailurus yaguarondi

Species: When it was originally discovered, it was thought that the red form of jaguarundi was a separate species of cat from the other colours. This species was called the eyra. However, it was found that both forms of cat could appear in the same litter, suggesting that they are the same species.The word 'jaguarundi' comes from the Guarani Indian term, 'yaguarundis'. Other names for the jaguarundi include, otter cat, weasel cat, jaguarondi, eyra, and yaguarundi. Although very distinctive in appearance, the jaguarundi has often been classified in the Felis genus. Wozencraft (1993) recognised its differences by allocating a separate genus in the latest taxonomic review of the cats.

Eight subspecies of jaguarundi have been described:
- F. (H.) y. yagouaroundi East Venezuela to northeast Brazil
- F. (H.) y. ameghinoi Western Argentina
- F. (H.) y. cacomitli Southern Texas to central Vera Cruz
- F. (H.) y. eyra Southern Brazil, Paraguay and north Argentina
- F. (H.) y. fossata Veracruz to central Nicaragua
- F. (H.) y. melantho Peru
- F. (H.) y. panamensis Central Nicaragua to Ecuador
- F. (H.) y. tolteca Southern Arizona to central Guerro

Presence on the planet: The jaguarundi is native to Central America and the northern and central countries of South America down to Argentina - it is also rarely sighted in parts of Texas and New Mexico in the southern United States. A number of jaguarundi are also to be found in Florida, although these are descendants of a small population introduced to the area in the 1940s.

Habitat: Jaguarundis live in dense shrubbery and thickets, and on the edge of forests. They are rarely found on open land, and even then, only near to bushes or dense ground cover. There, these cats live a life of relative safety because such thickets are almost impenetrable to both dogs and man which are their chief enemies. They spend most of their time on the ground, but they are expert climbers and garner part of their food in the trees and bushes. They are largely active at night but move about a good deal in the daytime, often going to water to drink at midday.

Jaguarundi Physical appearance: The jaguarundi is a small cat, with a long tail, short legs, small round ears, and a slender body. It's fur is short and smooth. It is a plain colour, with no patterning, though it is slightly lighter on the underside. The jaguarundi comes in a variety of colours. The main forms are almost black, grey, brown, or fox-red. The darker colours are more likely to be found in rainforest regions, and the paler colours in drier regions. Unlike the adults, newborns have spots on their coats.

Diet: Their food consists of rats, mice, birds, and rabbits. They also are reputed to make inroads on poultry. Robert Snow has stated that their chief food is birds and that the young in the dens are fed a similar diet. He reported seeing one old cat spring about 1.5 m into the air and knock feathers out of a low-flying dove. An analysis of stomach contents from 13 Venezuelan jaguarundis revealed the remains of lizards, rodents, small birds, cottontail rabbits, and grass.

Reproduction & Offspring: These felines are solitary, except during the breeding season. Gestation lasts for about 60 to 75 days. In each litter, 2-4 blind and helpless young are born. In the tropical regions, breeding is not seasonally restricted. In other regions, breeding happens twice a year, in March and August (this could be the same females having two litters a year, or two different groups of females having one litter a year). The cubs are weened at about 2 months. After this, the mother will teach them how to hunt, and look after themselves. Cubs usually gain full independence at about 10 months old. Sexual maturity is reached at about 2-3 years old.

Conservation status: Although the fur of the jaguarundi is not highly sought after by fur traders the cat is at risk through general deforestation and loss of its natural habitat. In the United States, where sightings of the cat are very rare, it is classified as an endangered species.

Jaguarundi, Wild Cat Status: Four sub-species of jaguarundi are listed in CITES Appendix 1 with the remaining sub-species in Appendix 2. The IUCN Red Book classifies the jaguarundi as 'Least Concern'.

Life span: 10-20 years
Behaviour of Jaguarindis
Behaviour patterns of jaguarundis are very flexible; they are agile climbers and good swimmers. Said to be more diurnal than most cats, they are crepuscular, which is in keeping with their plain, unmarked coloration. Thought to be solitary in the wild, there is evidence that they form groups in captivity. Fathers are allowed contact with their young from when they are about three days old. An extensive repertoire of vocalisations suggests a certain degree of socialisation. Adults will accept different generations of their offspring. They pair in well-defined territories which overlap/are shared with others.


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