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»Know Your Game - Jaguar


HOME RANGE: Jaguars are found in Mexico and Central America. Wanderers occasionally occur as far north as Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Even though the jaguar is found in South America, only those in Central America and North America are recognized.

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Panthera onca

ANIMAL SUMMARY: Adult North American jaguars are 6-8 feet in length, including 18-24 inches of tail. Shoulder height is 25-30 inches. Weight is 100-160 pounds, sometimes much more. Females are about 25 percent smaller than males. The jaguar is the largest cat in the western hemisphere. It is about the same length and height as the cougar, but more compactly and powerfully built. The coat is yellow to reddish-yellow, with whitish or light buff underparts. There are black spots on the head, neck and legs, and large black blotches on the underparts. The back and sides have large black rosettes with one or more black spots in the center. The tail is relatively short, with strong black markings toward the tip. Black, or melanistic, individuals are fairly common, but their spots can still be seen faintly.

BEHAVIOR: The male is solitary and territorial, a wanderer with a home range that is twice the size of a female's and will overlap those of several females. Breeding usually takes place in the spring in northern areas, but there is no fixed season in the tropics. Females mate every 2-3 years, bearing a litter of 1-4 kittens that remain with the mother for about two years. Full growth and sexual maturity are reached in 3-4 years. Life expectancy is about 15 years. Jaguars are entirely carnivorous, preying largely on peccaries and deer, but also on smaller mammals, fish and snakes. They often kill domestic livestock, which has made them unpopular with ranchers and has led to their persecution. They are good tree climbers and excellent swimmers; unlike most cats, they are fond of water. They may be diurnal or nocturnal, depending on the presence of humans. Eyesight and hearing are excellent, with sense of smell reasonably good. As a so-called "great" cat, the jaguar is able to roar; however, its usual vocalization is a series of deep, raspy, coughing grunts.    

Super Ten®/Super Slam®: If and when jaguars can be darted by hunters as part of a scientific program, they would be counted as an auxiliary trophy for the Super Slam® and substitutable for the cougar for the Super Ten® (highly unlikely, but possible). Information found here contains excerpts from the on-line and printed version of Safari Club International (SCI) Record Book of Trophy Animals and is used by permission. Visit

Jaguar Species Map

Jaguar Range in North America: The map above is used by permission from the on-line Safari Club International (SCI) Record Book of Trophy Animals. Visit