The Jaguar (Panthera onca) is a large, near-threatened wild cat. It is a felid. 

The Jaguar looks like the Leopard, but it is larger and more muscular. It has tawny-brown fur covered with rosette-shaped markings with one or several dots. It has spots on its head and neck. Its tail also has spots, and ends with bands. Forest Jaguars are usually darker than those in open areas. It has short, powerful legs. It has a large head with strong jaws.  

The Black Panther or Black Jaguar is actually a melanistic Jaguar, mainly found in South America. 


It grows to 112-185 centimetres (43-71 inches) long and 63-76 centimetres (25-30 inches) to shoulder height. It is the third largest wild cat species in the world, after the Tiger and the Lion.

The Jaguar is native to Central America, as well as Paraguay and Argentina in South America, and in south-western America and Mexico. It prefers forests and open terrains in sub-tropical and tropical humid forests, swamplands, and marshlands. It prefers warm climates. It likes to live near rivers and swamps.

The Jaguar is an excellent swimmer and it can climb trees easily. 

It is a solitary animal. It is crepuscular, mostly active at dawn and dusk.

It is a carnivore, eating only meat. It preys opportunistically on small and large mammals, such as anteaters, capybara, deer, boar, and livestock. It is an apex predator, which means that it does not have any animals that hunt it. It stalks and ambushes its prey, instead of chasing its prey (like the Cheetah does). It drags the dead animal to a secluded place, then eats it.It can break the shell of a tortoise with its teeth and strong jaws.

The female is pregnant for 95-105 days, before giving birth to 2-4 live young, called cubs. The cubs are altricial, born blind. They gain their sight after about 14 days. The female raises her cubs alone. The cubs remain in the den, with their mother, for about six months.  

The Jaguar lives, on average, for 15 years in the wild.


[Location of photographs: Parc Zoologique de Paris in Bois de Vincennes, France]

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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