Jaguarundi characteristics, habitat, reproduction, feeding

David Holt

The jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi) is a feline that belongs to the Felidae family. Members of this species can exhibit two different colorations: one is reddish brown and the other is gray. In both cases, the belly is lighter in color. In the same litter, pups of both colors can be born.

The young lion, as this animal is also called, is endemic to southern North America and South America. In these regions, it prefers lowland scrub, which is close to a body of water. In addition, its habitat can range from dry forests to wet grasslands..

Jaguarundi. Source: Puma_yaguarondi.jpg: Bodlinaderivative work: WolfmanSF [CC BY (]

According to the IUCN, Puma yagouaroundi It is in danger of extinction. Although at present the decrease of its populations is slow, there are several factors that affect this species.

One of its main threats is the fragmentation and loss of the environment where it lives. In this sense, man cuts down the forests to use the land for agricultural purposes..

Article index

  • 1 Features
    • 1.1 Fur
    • 1.2 Size
    • 1.3 Behavior
  • 2 Habitat and distribution
    • 2.1 Distribution
    • 2.2 Habitat
    • 2.3 Home range
  • 3 Taxonomy
  • 4 Playback
    • 4.1 The hatchlings
  • 5 Food
    • 5.1 The diet
  • 6 References 


The body of the jaguarundi is long and slender. The front limbs are short, with the hindquarters raised. As for the tail, it is long, being able to have a length that exceeds half the length of the body. When walking, it does so in a digitigrade way, supporting only the tips of the toes..

The head is small, flat and elongated, with round ears, which barely protrude. In relation to the skull, it is slightly arched. The nasal bones are extended to the front, while the foramina of the palatine are very little visible.


The fur of the Puma yagouaroundi adult lacks streaks or spots and is made up of short, coarse hairs. These tend to be lighter at the tip and base, which can give you a graying look.

Regarding the coloration, this species presents two different tones: gray and reddish brown. These intensify on the head and legs, paling around the muzzle, lower jaw, belly and chest.

Both colors exhibit a variety of shades. Thus, those that have a reddish brown color vary between orange and olive brown, and the gray coloration can appear between ashen and black..

In the past, the idea was used that the species of each color were taxonomically separated. Thus, those with blackish fur were called eyra, while those with reddish fur were known as jaguarundi. However, these cats belong to the same species, since in the same litter can be born young of both tones.


The jaguarundi is small in size, being slightly larger than the domestic cat. Also, in this species, the male is slightly larger and heavier than the female..

The length of the body varies between 50.5 and 77 centimeters, not counting the tail. This can measure from 33 to 60 centimeters. As for the shoulder height, it measures approximately 35 centimeters. In relation to the body mass of this feline, it ranges from 4.5 to 9 kilograms.

In this video you can see a specimen in its natural habitat:


The jaguarundi is a diurnal animal, which presents a peak of maximum activity at approximately 11 in the morning. The vast majority of its habits are terrestrial, however, it is a good swimmer and tree climber.

The vocal repertoire of this species is very wide. Experts point out that it has 13 different calls, used to greet, draw attention and to warn the group about a threatening situation. Thus, when the feline visualizes a predator, it emits a loud hiss.

On the other hand, like other members of his family, the Puma yagouaroundi mark your territory. For this, it scrapes the ground with its paws and rubs its head against the trunks of the trees. Also, it uses chemical stimuli, since it urinates and leaves feces on the ground..

In this video you can hear the roar of the jaguarundi:

Habitat and distribution


The Puma yagouaroundi It is distributed from the southern region of Texas and the coast of Mexico, through Central and South America, to the north of Argentina. In 2015, experts registered the presence of this species in Cerro Largo, Uruguay.

This species is probably extinct in the United States. Although several cases of jaguarundi sightings have been reported in Texas, Florida and Arizona, they are not well documented. Thus, the presence of this mammal in these states may be related to the introduction of some species in those regions..


This feline lives in a wide range of open and closed ecosystems. Thus, it inhabits from the Monte desert, resting forests, semi-arid thorn bushes, savannas and swamps to primary forests.

However, when it is in open areas it needs a dense vegetation cover, including, for example, secondary growth forests.

Also, the ounce, as this species is known, is found in tropical rainforests, shrub lands, dense chaparral and in deciduous tropical forests. Often lives near water, in areas around lakes, rivers, and streams.

Although this feline habitually lives in lowlands, up to 2,000 meters above sea level, it could be found at elevations of up to 3,200 meters above sea level..

Home range

The home range of the jaguarundi varies greatly between different species and populations. In this sense, in one community, the area of ​​the males can be between 88 and 100 km², while in another region the males occupy around 17.6 km².

The same happens with females. While some live in an area that covers about 20 km², those of other communities have a home range of 6.8 km².


-Animal Kingdom.

-Subkingdom: Bilateria.

-Phylum: Chordate.

-Subfilum: Vertebrate.

-Infrafilum: Gnathostomata

-Superclass: Tetrapoda.

-Class: Mammal.

-Subclass: Theria.

-Infraclass: Eutheria.

-Order: Carnivora.

-Suborder: Feliformia.

-Family: Felidae.

-Subfamily: Felinae.

-Gender: Puma.

-Species: Puma yagouaroundi.


-Puma yagouaroundi ameghinoi

-Puma yagouaroundi yagouaroundi

-Puma yagouaroundi cacomitli

-Puma yagouaroundi toltec

-Puma yagouaroundi melantho

-Puma yagouaroundi eyra

-Puma yagouaroundi panamensis

-Puma yagouaroundi fossata.


The female and male of this species become sexually mature at approximately two to three years of age. As for the estrous cycle, it lasts around 54 days. However, the female exhibits signs of estrus for three days..

Over much of its range, the jaguarundi does not have a definitive breeding season. Because of this, mating can occur at any time of the year..

When the female is in heat, she wanders around her territory, urinating in various places. Along with this, it emits weak screams. Subsequently, the female rolls onto her back, thus indicating to the male that she is receptive to copulation..

During copulation, the male bites the female on the neck and, while mating, both the female and the male vocalize loud screams..

The babies

After a gestation period that lasts between 70 and 75 days, delivery occurs. The young are born in a den, which was built in the middle of thick vegetation or in a hollow tree.

In relation to the litter, it varies in size, being able to have from one to four young. Newborns have spots on the lower part of their bodies, which disappear as they develop.

When they are six weeks old, they are able to eat solid food, although after 21 days the mother has offered small amounts of food. After the cubs are 28 days old, they leave the den and explore the environment. From 42 days, they can eat completely on their own.


The Puma yagouaroundi It is a carnivorous animal that has a wide diet, being able to capture almost any small animal that is within reach. Said feline is a terrestrial hunter, however, it has great abilities to climb trees.

This wide range of action, together with the fact that it is an opportunistic predator, means that its diet is made up of more than twenty-six species of vertebrate animals. In addition, their diet varies considerably from one region to another..

The red cat, as this species is also known, usually hunts during the morning and evening hours. This pattern of activities is contrary to that of the vast majority of members of the Felidae family. However, these diurnal habitats represent a positive aspect for the jaguarundi.

This is because it minimizes competition for prey, a behavior that could exist between it and a wild cat of a similar size that shares the same habitat..

The diet

Among the animals that the Moorish cat hunts, as it is known in many South American regions, are rodents, frogs, rats and small reptiles, such as iguanas. Also, it has a predilection for birds, being its favorites the chachalacas, quails and wild turkeys.

While the feeding of the Puma yagouaroundi It is mainly based on small animals, with a body mass that averages 380, it also tends to capture larger animals.

In this way, the feline eats mountain mullet, opossums, armadillos, rabbits, fish and even small primates, which are found near the banks of the river or the lagoons. In addition, it can occasionally consume carrion.

On the other hand, like other felines, the jaguarundi usually includes a small amount of vegetation and fruits in its diet, as well as some arthropods and insects, such as beetles..


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  2. Aprile, Gustavo. (2012). Pereira, J. and G. Aprile. 2012. Yaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi). In "South American felines". Recovered from
  3. Wikipedia (2020). Jaguarundi. Recovered from
  4. Rick, J. (2004). Puma yagouaroundi. Animal Diversity Web. Recovered from
  5. Caso, A., de Oliveira, T., Carvajal, S.V. (2015). Herpailurus yagouaroundi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015. Recovered from
  6. New World Encyclopedia (2020). Jaguarundi. Recovered from

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