- Herpailurus yagouarundiBy: C.M.Shorter
This small Wild Cat makes its home in the
lowlands of Northern Mexico, Central and South America. Mainly
diurnal and crepuscular
ground hunters they have been well observed in daylight hours and
have rather large home ranges - much larger than that of their
neighboring felines, including the Jaguar. Another difference between
the Jaguarundi and most other Wild Cats is they travel and hunt
in pairs. Studies reveal they prefer to occupy varying parts of
their range rather than making territorial boundary patrols using
scent markings to define borders as Dave and Jason describe to
us in the TigerHomes
DVD "Power Cats - Locked & Loaded"
is one of the most unusual
looking of our small cats with a short, solid coat not unlike
Coat colors range from black, brownish grey and even red
with absolutely no markings. That's right - no
spots & no stripes for this lowland hunter. No markings
on the back of their ear either which are the "False
" nature provides as a defense, like those of
the mighty Tigers
to confuse potential predators. Eyes
and a very piercing amber in color.
In spite of their unique appearance, Jaguarundi
are closely related to other small South American cats. Modern
day scientists believe their ancestors evolved in Eurasia and
crossed into the New World via the Bering land bridge about the
same time as the ancestor of the modern day Cougar.
Not usually found above 2,000 meters,
they prefer territory of dense vegetation in low lying dry
scrub, swamp and savannah
woodland over that of the primary forests. Their small, sleek
frame is best suited for this type of lowland terrain. These
ground hunters prefer a low-carb diet (just kidding!). Actually,
the Jaguarundi seeks out a wide variety of prey including small
rodents, rabbits, armadillo, opossums, wild turkey, quail, reptiles,
frogs & fish. Vegetation, leaves and fallen fruit are sometimes
consumed for water content. Jaguarundi body shape is suited for
a terrestrial dweller but they take refuge in the treetop canopy,
often moving from branch to branch.
Easily trapped and tamed, the Central American natives have
kept the Jaguarundi as pets and used them for rodent control.
Relatively common throughout some areas, but becoming increasingly
rare throughout Mexico primarily due to habitat destruction they
are offered protected status. Exceptions are the countries of
Brazil, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guyana where the Jaguarandi
is subject to hunting pressure, particularly around settled areas.
Actual numbers in the wild are not known but a feral population
is known to exist in Florida where they were introduced in the
late 1940s. Jaguarundi were never hunted for their fur because
of its lack of markings, however dwindling population has placed
this species overall on CITES Appendix II, with the exception
of the Jaguarundi of Central America, now placed on CITES Appendix
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Scientific Name: Herpailurus yagouarundi
Common Name(s): Jaguarundi, Otter Cat
Range: Northern Mexico, Central and South America
Average Weight: 3 - 9kg (6 - 20 lbs)
Length: 77 - 140cm (35 - 55")
Diet: Carnivorous. Small rodents, rabbits, armadillos, opossums,
quail, wild turkey, reptiles, frogs, fish and domestic poultry.
Gestation Period: 75- 75 Days
Cub Maturity: 4 - 5 Months
Cubs Per Litter: 1 - 4 Kittens
Lifespan: 14 - 16 years. Documented at 22 years in captivity.
Predators: Man, Larger Carnivores. Threats - pollution and loss
Social Structure: Known to hunt and travel in pairs.
Territory Size: Relatively large territories with Males taking
80-100 km (45-56 miles) and Females occupying 15-20km (8-11 miles)
Conservation Status: Placed on CITES Appendix II overall, with
the North and Central American populations on Appendix I.