Jaguarundi Facts

Avatar BCR | March 15, 2015 4469 Views 0 Likes 5 On 2 Ratings

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Common Name: Jaguarundi
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata (Vertebrata)
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Genus: Felinae (Felis)
Species: yaguarondi
Sub Species: (herpailurus yaguarondi fossata) Guatemalan Jaguarundi(H.y. cacomitli) gulf coast jaguarundi  (H.y. panamensis) Panamanian jaguarundi (H.y. toleteca) Sinaloan jaguarundi

Misc: While Jaguarundis are not native to the south-eastern United States, it is believed that a feral population exists in Florida, established from an introduced population of escaped pets in the 1940’s. They were reported to be quite easy to “tame” by early Central American natives, and were used to control rodent populations around villages. Today, it is not recommended to keep these or any other wild animal, as pets. Jaguarundis are one of the only felines to not have contrasting colors on the backs of their ears.

Size and Appearance: this cat is unique in its appearance among the felids in that it more closely resembles a weasel. They have slender, elongated bodies, short legs, a small flattened head, long “otter-like” tail, and a sleek, unmarked coat. Adults can weigh as little as 6 pounds or as much as 20. They stand 10-14 inches at the shoulder, and reach a length of 35-55 inches. Coats occur in 3 main color variations: black, brownish-grey, or red. Any or all colors can occur in a single litter, but generally the darker colors are usually found in the rain forest, while the paler color is found in the drier environments. The red color was once considered a separate species – F. eyra.

Habitat: A cat of the lowlands, not generally found above 6500 ft., Jaguarundis occupy a wide range of both open and closed habitats – from dry scrub, swamp and savannah woodland to primary forest. The factor used to determine habitat suitability is access to dense ground vegetation. Of all of the New World felines, Jaguarundis are the most adaptable in its ability to occupy diverse environments.

Distribution: Northern Mexico, Central and South America, Texas and possibly Florida.

Reproduction and Offspring: After a gestation of approximately 70-75 days, females produce a litter of 1-4 kittens. Like cougars and lions, newborns are spotted, and the spots soon disappear. They begin to take solid foods around the age of 6 weeks, and attain sexual maturity between 24-36 months.

In captivity, Jaguarundis have lived up to 15 years.

Social System and Communication: Jaguarundis are known to be solitary or travel and forage in pairs. They have a wide variety of vocalizations, with 13 distinct calls having been documented.

Hunting and Diet: Their primary diet is quite varied and is comprised of small rodents, rabbits, armadillos, opossums, quail, wild turkey, reptiles, frogs, fish and domestic poultry. They have also been recorded eating fish stranded in puddles.

Principal Threats: Generally not exploited for trade, they are still caught by traps that were intended for commercially valuable species. They are notorious for raiding domestic poultry and have become nuisance animals and threatened by farmers because of it. Their biggest threat is habitat destruction and human encroachment.

Status: CITES: Appendix II, Central and North American populations Appendix I. IUCN: Not listed.

Felid TAG recommendation: Jaguarundi (Herpailurus jaguarondi). Jaguarundis are uncommon in zoos, and the founder size of most zoo-held populations is only two individuals. Unless a significant number of founders are obtained from range countries, the captive population is probably not viable. Therefore, the TAG recommends this species for Phase-Out in North America. At the Annual AZA Conference (September 1999), the following four species were recommended by the Felid TAG to be ‘down-graded’ to a Phase-Out populations. For the jaguarundi, tigrina, and Geoffroy’s cat, these recommendations were made because of limited space available, the limited number of founders in these populations, and limited potential for acquiring additional founders.

Information reprinted With Permission from the IUCN Wild Cats Book.


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This post currently has 12 responses.

    • Hush Valley Lodge

      June 7, 2013 at 5:58 pm

      We have black jaguarundi on our property in the mountains of Costa Rica… they're good at hiding so sightings are not common, but one of our workers saw one just two days ago. Feel free to visit our website, if you're interested:

      Have a great day.

  1. Melitta Vahalik

    August 11, 2013 at 12:59 am

    Since the pipelines have gone through and destroyed the woods behind our house approximately a mile back, we have seen this and bobcats and birds, hornets and bees we have not seen before.

  2. Melitta Vahalik

    August 11, 2013 at 1:12 am

    Our cat has more black to it, like thousands of tiny dots and gets darker in winter. Bobcats, coyote, and a wolf that looks eerily like that cartoon wolf with its long head and long legs who clears my 48" fence like I step over a log. Painted Bunting birds that evidently are here all year round but are very shy, bees in all shapes and sizes – I never knew bees could be so small. Hornets, I have never seen these, the size of the large humming birds – scary! Some say the hornets kill cicadas and others say tarantulas.

  3. William Taylor

    October 27, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    I made the following observation at 1000 local time in SW Ft. Worth on Sep 16, 2013, near the juncture of urban and agricultural land. An animal moved rapidly on the top of my back privacy fence and momentarily obscured horizontal light from a neighbor’s back porch. the light beam obscured was slightly more than 30 inches. The animal moved silently with an otter or ferret-like motion and it vanished. Note: I had ventured onto my back porch for fresh air while watching TV and with a lamp on mid intensity. Immediately outside, during the observation, I was not visually dark adapted. The animal was dark and without spots; head was not discernible, neither was a tail. Only the bowing back as it progressed along the fence. I asked a fellow field biologist from years past about the possibilities of genus and specie. (He worked for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and in the federal fish hatchery system for his work life. His answer was “….likely a jaguarundi.” I told him, “That’s my best conclusion, also.” I have made a “field log” of this event since the observation on 9/16.I would like to share this observation and the log of subsequent events if you would like.

  4. Joann Miller Moorhead

    October 11, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    John Petrey I live in Lower Alabama, specifically Robertsdale, in a rural area. Yesterday afternoon a cat crossed the road in front of me. It was light colored, not real big, maybe even about the same size as a domestic cat, but the really unique thing about it was its' tail was extremely long. I've been looking at photos and this jaguarundi is the closest thing I can find.

  5. Boris Denissoff

    April 21, 2019 at 4:37 pm

    I have about 30 acres of extremely dense, impenetrable “swamp” (dry or wet, depending on God) on one side of my 1800′ long lake front property, and about 1/2 acre on the other side. Not unusual to see Jaguarundis crossing my grassy yard. Saw one today, actually. I’ve been within 40′ of one. If I got some chickens, probably see a lot more of them!!!

  6. Ken Gee

    August 24, 2020 at 4:54 am

    Back in 2018 November. I was leaving Gainesville FL. Headed to Ocala FL. Though paynes prairie when I saw a cat about 4ft long black with a small head for such a big cat. It’s tail was a lot longer then the tail. I so I wrote a letter to the paynes prairie ranger office. A few days later I got a response telling I what I had seen. So now I go looking for them. I know I may never see another but hey it’s fun.

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