Panthera onca


Panthera onca


Its relative jaw force (so-called BFQ) is 137 and it is the highest result among all felids. BFQ refers to animal’s bite force divided by its weight. The jaguar is able to bite a turtle’s shell like man can crash a pistachio nut. The word jaguar in Portuguese means the beast.


The jaguar is the largest cat of Americas, you can meet biggest ones in Pantanal. Its appearance is very similar to a leopard, living in Africa and Asia. They can be distinguished, however, not only by the place of occurrence, but also by build and colour. The jaguar is slightly more massive, has shorter legs and tail, and larger rosettes with a few dots in the middle.

The coat may have a yellow to rusty shade, and each cat has a mark on the back of each ear in the form of a dark spot with a lighter centre. All cats also have dots on their face, tail and on the entire bottom of the body.

There are both melanistic and albino individuals, i.e. almost completely black and white. The latter, however, are extremely rare. Also, jaguars watchfully look at the world through golden or yellow irises.


The jaguar is fond of water, so its natural habitats are marsh areas, water banks and periodically flooded forests. It does not like open spaces, but it can perfectly blend into the forest trick of light and shadows. The jaguar hides in thickets and large caves to rest. It does it both during the day and night, interspersing it with periods of activity.

It hunts mainly from the ground, relying on its incredibly strong jaws to crack the neck or skull of the victim. It also enjoys hunting in the water, where it kills fish, capybaras and even caimans. The jaguar lures fish with its tail, hits it against the surface of the water and catches the aquatic creatures with one paw.

The jaguar can kill a victim by twisting its neck when it hits the ground. It also uses an arboreal ambush because it has great climbing abilities. It jumps on a victim that walks under the branches and often drags it up a tree. Basically, it prefers large ungulates, but its diet is varied. It doesn’t mind eating reptiles, birds, fish, eggs or any kind of small mammals.

Jaguars do not have a specific mating season. Females call males using audible and odorous signals when they are ready to raise kittens. A relationship between jaguars lasts four to five weeks. The couple lives together, sharing territory, prey and spending time copulating. After this time, their turbulent relationship falls apart, but after a hundred days the fruits of their love are born.

Kitties open their eyes after just 3 or as many as 13 days. During the first weeks of their lives they feed exclusively on milk, and at the age of about 4 months transfer to a meat diet. Females become self-reliant sooner, leaving their mother’s territory before their brothers do.

Kittens seem to be easily tamed by a man, but once the adolescence is over and the young jaguars know their strength, they become dangerous even for their caregivers.

These big cats mark the area with urine and claw marks on the trees. Jaguars share the area with pumas, but they rarely come into conflict because cats prefer to avoid each other. Male jaguars most often fight for the right to fertilise a female.


It is forbidden to hunt jaguars, but illegal poaching is one of the threats, though not the greatest. A more serious threat to the species is the loss of land on which it can function freely.

Jaguars are also no strangers to man retaliation for killing farm animals and reducing the available victims by venison hunters. Their bones also replace that of tigers in traditional natural medicine, and the demand for its claws and fangs is considerable.

Adult cats do not have natural enemies, only kittens can be killed by huge snakes, caimans or mature male jaguars. Despite this, the species is near threatened, and its population is decreasing.

Author: Małgorzata Banaszkiewicz

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