The Jaguar is the largest cat in the Americas, an adult weighs from 200 to 300 pounds. A jaguar is 5 ½ to 8 feet long, including tail. The Jaguar is the largest cat in the Western hemisphere – and the third largest in the world after lions and tigers. Often confused with leopards, jaguars may be distinguished by the additional spots in the center of its rosettes, stockier body and shorter limbs.

They can be found in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico, Central and South America, though they are very rare in the United States. The jaguar swims well and likes to live near water. Their habitat ranges from rainforest to seasonally flooded swamp areas, pampas grassland, thorn scrub woodland, and deciduous forest.

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A strong climber the jaguar often waits in trees for its prey, relying on proximity rather than sustained speed in hunting. A Jaguar will eat almost anything it can catch but prefers large prey. They regularly kill prey by piercing the skull with their canines. The jaguar’s name means “a beast that kills its prey with a single bound.” They hunt mostly at night. Jaguars live and hunt alone, except during mating season. Their home range for males is 19 to 53 square miles and for females 10 to 37 square miles. They live in dens, caves and canyons. Usually a litter is 1 to 4 cubs. Melanistic jaguar have been mistakenly called “black panthers.” Black panthers do not exist.

Unlike many other species, the jaguar faces no natural threat from rival cats or other predators — with the exception of humans.Unfortunately, jaguars compete with humans for most of their prey. In many regions they are shot on sight because of fear, concern for livestock or competition for prey. Jaguars can live up to 25 years in captivity. In the wild the jaguar’s average lifespan is 12-15 years. Jaguar are endangered through loss of habitat (deforestation and mining) and through hunting or poaching.

The Aztecs and Mayans worshiped jaguars.