The jaguar is the largest feline on the American continent and is the one of the world’s ‘big’ cats to be found in the New World. Jaguars are closely related to leopards and have a number of similar characteristics including the distinctive spotted patterns on their fur.
The jaguar is the third biggest cat in the world behind the tiger and the lion and is well known for its immense power and agility. In fact, the name jaguar is said to come from the native American word Yaguar which means “he who kills with one leap”.
Despite their incredible power, Jaguars have been hunted through the ages mainly for their staggeringly beautiful fur. Although hunting for jaguar fur is now prohibited, population numbers have declined throughout much of their natural range, with jaguars having completely disappeared from a number of areas.
The jaguar is a large and muscular animal that has a heavier and sturdier body than that of a leopard. They have a large, broad head with jaws so strong that they are said to have the most powerful bite of all the world’s cats. Jaguars tend to have a cover of either tan or dark yellow fur, which is dotted with darker rose-like patterns that are similar to those of a leopard (besides the fact that they have dark spots in the middle).
Known as rosetting, the pattern on the jaguar’s fur is unique to each animal much like fingerprints are unique to individual people, and despite its beauty, it actually acts as the perfect camouflage in the surrounding jungle. This camouflage turns out to be so vital to their chances of survival, that those Jaguars found in the rainforest are darker in color and often smaller than those found in more open areas.
Keywords to learn
Immense: Extremely large or great.
Caiman: A semi aquatic reptile similar to the alligator but with a heavily armored belly, native to tropical America.
Hey Kids, my name is Jaden the Jaguar and I am very happy to meet you. Learn more about me and my species @ https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/
Key Jaguar Data:
- Lifespan:12 – 15 years.
- Scientific Name:Panthera onca.
- Mass: 36kg – 160kg. (79lbs – 350lbs)
- Length:1.1m – 1.9m. (43in – 75in)
- Region found:Central and South America.
- Population Status:Threatened.
- Current population trend:Decreasing.
- Sexual maturity:3 – 4 years.
Jaguars are extremely powerful, extremely beautiful and extremely dangerous animals. Jaguars are amazing predators, and are always on the hunt, and with that people need to be very careful in a jaguar’s environment. Jaguars should be left alone in the wild in peace.
Now that you know more about the Jaguar by learning the key data above, be sure also to check out the fun facts. When you are finished learning the facts, try answering the questions in the Q&A corner on the bottom right side of the page.
Download questions about the jaguar here: Jaguar (answers are on this page)
Teachers. For more in depth work sheets on the jaguar. Click on Kidskonnect Worksheets
Jaguar Fun Facts for Kids:
- # 1. Despite the fact that most jaguar cubs are generally born between the months of December and March, it is not uncommon for them to be born at other times of the year. During the mating season, the female Jaguar will use loud vocal calls to attract a male into her territory. Female jaguars typically give birth to two or three cubs.
- # 2. The majority of a jaguar’s hunting is done down on the ground, but they are also known to hunt for prey both in the water and from the trees, from where the it can easily ambush its prey often killing with one powerful bite. Medium sized mammals make up the majority of the jaguar’s diet including deer, capybara, peccaries and tapirs, which they stalk in silence through the dense jungle. When in the water, jaguars hunt turtles, fish and even small caiman when the opportunity presents itself.
- # 3. Due to the large size and dominant nature of the jaguar, there are no other wild animals that are known to actually consider it as prey. Once found throughout the South American continent, they have been hunted by humans mainly for their fur which has led to drastic declines in jaguar population numbers everywhere.
- # 4. Jaguars have the strongest bite force of all cats and like other ‘big’ cats they can roar (other cats cannot). The jaguar is undoubtedly a strikingly beautiful animal and has naturally caught the attention of both scientists and hunters alike, with many individuals sadly having been poached for their distinctively patterned fur. Although jaguars usually have yellowish colored fur, other colors are also known including black and white.
- # 5. The jaguar was once found from the tip of South America right up to and beyond, the Mexico-US border but hunting for their fur and habitat loss has led to drastic declines in population numbers. They are today very rarely seen in the USA and are considered endangered throughout much of their natural range, although the jaguar is listed by the IUCN Red List as an animal that is threatened in its surrounding environment. Although the exact population number is unknown, there are an estimated 15,000 jaguar individuals left roaming the rainforest today.
- # 1. Name the 3 largest cats in the world?
- # 2. What is so special about the jaguar’s jaw?
- # 3. At what age do jaguars sexually mature at?
- # 4. Can the jaguar roar?
- # 5. What is the estimated population of jaguars?