Biology

A short and stocky limb structure makes the jaguar adept at climbing, crawling and swimming.

The jaguar’s head is robust and its jaw is extremely powerful. This strength is an adaptation that allows the jaguar to pierce turtle shells.

With its short and sturdy physique, it is well-adapted to its prey and environment. It hunts wild animals weighing up to 300 kilograms in dense jungle.

Jaguars are territorial, and like most cats, the jaguar is solitary outside mother-cub groups.

Adults generally meet only to court and mate, and carve out large territories for themselves.

Female territories - from 25 to 40 square kilometres in size - may overlap, but the animals generally avoid one another. Male ranges cover twice the area, varying in size with the availability of game and space, and do not overlap. Scrape marks, urine and faeces are used to mark territory.

Like the other big cats, jaguars are capable of roaring - the male more powerfully - and do so to warn territorial and mating competitors away. Conflict is typically over territory. A male’s range may include that of two or three females. However he will not tolerate intrusions by other adult males.

Life cycle

Jaguar females reach sexual maturity at about 2 years of age, and males at 3 or 4. The cat mates throughout the year, although births may increase when prey is plentiful.

The female oestrous - time of heightened sexual activity - is 6–17 days out of a full 37-day cycle.

Females advertise fertility with urinary scent marks and increased vocalisation.

A jaguar’s pregnancy lasts 93–105 days.

Females give birth most commonly to 2 cubs but can have up to 4.

The life-span of a jaguar in the wild is estimated to be 12–15 years.

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