20 Facts About Jaguars

Jaguars are the largest cats in the cat family! They’re also one of the fiercest predators in the Amazon and in the dense swamplands. Their stunning coat and dark rosettes give them a striking appearance, but they’re also the cause of their downfall, being hunted by humans to near extinction for their prized spotted pelts. Keep on reading to learn 20 striking facts about Jaguars.

Fact 1: The Jaguar is part of the large field species, and is a member of the genus Panthera which is native to the Americas. 

  • It’s the largest member of the cat family in the Americas, and they were once found from the U.S.-Mexican border all the way southward to Patagonia, Argentina. 

Fact 2: Its preferred habitats are usually swamps and wooded regions, but Jaguars also live in shrublands and deserts. 

  • They are virtually extinct in the northern part of the world. But the largest known population of Jaguars can be found in the Amazon rainforest.

Fact 3: The Jaguar resembles the leopard of Africa and Asia, but the leopard lacks the black centre spot of the Jaguar. 

  • Along the midline of the Jaguar’s back is a row of long black spots that can sometimes merge together and can give the Jaguar a dark stripe along their back.
  • Interestingly, the base color of the Jaguar’s coat varies from white to black. 

Fact 4: Jaguars are listed as “Near threatened” on the IUCN’s (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List. 

  • Today, there are limited numbers of Jaguars left in the world because humans are destroying their foresty homes.
  • Sadly, more than half of the lands where Jaguars used to roam and live are now completely free from Jaguars!

Fact 5: They’ve been known to hunt powerful preys like caimans!

  • Jaguars are able to eat larger, powerful prey like caiman because of the way they hunt, stalk, and finish off their prey.
  • Other big cats kill their prey by clamping their jaws around the neck of the animal and suffocating it. 

Fact 6: Jaguars are very good swimmers and often live near water. 

  • There are many benefits to this, but of the most beneficial to them living near water is that they can then hunt big animals like crocodiles and turtles. A Jaguar’s ultra-strong jaws and teeth can bite through a crocodile skull or turtle shell, in literally no time at all.

Fact 7: People often confuse Jaguars with Leopards. 

  • The Jaguar is stockier and more muscular than the leopard, with a compact body, a broader head and powerful jaws.
  • The Jaguar’s tail is also generally shorter than the leopard’s tail.
  • Though Jaguars and leopards both have coats that feature rosette patterns, a Jaguar’s rosettes have spots inside them. 

Fact 8: It was Carl Linnaeus who gave Jaguars their scientific name ‘Felis onca’. 

  • Documents found many, many years later stated that there are no subspecies of Jaguar to be had.

Fact 9: The Jaguar is a solitary predator, preferring to stalk and ambush their prey alone, and without interference. 

  • Their name comes from the Indian word ‘yaguar’, meaning “he who kills with one leap.” Which is apt really considering Jaguars are swift, agile, and are very good climbers/leapers.

Fact 10: Jaguars have 32 teeth. 

  • Humans also have 32 teeth… but our teeth and jaws are nowhere near as powerful as the Jaguars.  

Fact 11: Jaguars were once found in various parts of America and surrounding areas.

  • They lived in Texas, in the Cerro Colorado Mountains in Arizona, the southern part of California, and New Mexico, in the United States.
  • They are still found in the rainforests in Central and South America.

Fact 12: In 1968, Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary in Belize became the very first Jaguar reserve in the world. 

  • This unique sanctuary in southern Belize covers an area of about 150 square miles of tropical forest, and is the world’s only Jaguar Reserve. 

Fact 13: Males typically live in and defend an area range of up to 80-90 square kilometres. They hunt within this area regularly, and only come together with females to mate. 

  • Jaguars reproduce by the male impregnating the female resulting in one to four cubs. Jaguars mate year-round with no specific breeding periods. 

Fact 14: Black panthers are also called Melanistic Jaguars. 

  • The opposite of albinism, melanism is the result of a gene that causes a surplus of pigment in the skin or hair of an animal so that it appears black.

Fact 15: Baby Jaguars are born blind, they gain their sight when they are 2 weeks old.

  • Cubs are weaned at three months, but remain in the birth den for 6 months, before leaving to accompany their mother on hunts. 

Fact 16: A Jaguar’s lifespan is usually around 12-15 years in the wild, which is a healthy lifespan when compared to other animals living in the wild. 

  • But in captivity, they can live up to 23 years, placing them among the longest-lived cats.

Fact 17: The Jaguar, or nagual, is seen as a spirit companion to Shaman believers (a Shaman is a practicer of the Shamanism belief).

  • The Jaguar, or nagual, will protect the Shaman believer from evil spirits while they move between the earth and the spirit realm. The
  • Jaguar is often seen as a nagual because of its sheer strength, will, and determination.

Fact 18: Male and female Jaguars roar when they want to mate. 

  • The female Jaguar is ready for mating when she is about 2 years of age. For the males, it is later, usually around 3 or 4 years of age.

Fact 19: A pair of Jaguars can mate countless times a day!

  • Pregnancy lasts around 14 weeks, then the female usually gives birth to 1-4 cubs. 

Fact 20: In Mayan mythology, the Jaguar was seen as the ruler of the Underworld, and as such, they were seen as a symbol of the night sun and darkness.

  • The Jaguar is also a representative of power, ferocity, and valor; he is the embodiment of aggressiveness. For some, the jaguar represents the power to face one’s fears, or to confront one’s enemies.


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