Jaguarundi (Puma Yaguarondi)
Slightly larger than a house cat, the jaguarundi is a wild cat found throughout the Americas. Weighing between 12 and 20 lbs (5 and 9 kg), the jaguarundi has a long and slender body with a flat, triangular head and small rounded ears. Its spotless coat may be gray, black, dark brown, red, tawny yellow or chestnut. Jaguarundis with darker coats tend to live in the rainforest, where their dark coat helps them blend into the vegetation, while those with lighter coats often live in drier habitats, where their coloring provides better camouflage.
Jaguarundis are known to live throughout South America, Central America, Mexico and even Texas and southeast Arizona. Jaguarundis live in a variety of habitats, from grasslands to tropical forests, thickets and even scrubland. Preferring to live near water, they are usually found near lakes, streams or swamps. These cats do not make their own den; instead they prefer to find a natural den within a cave, hollow log or dense undergrowth.
The diet of the jaguarundi is very similar to that of most small predators. As carnivores, they mostly prey on birds, but also hunt small mammals, reptiles, fish and frogs. They have also become infamous for raiding poultry farms.
Because their coat is spotless and coarse, jaguarondis are not hunted for their fur like most other wild cats. They also seem to adapt fairly well to human disturbances. However, they are endangered due to loss of habitat and the subsequent loss of their prey species.
- Jukofsky, Diane. Encyclopedia of Rainforests. Connecticut: Oryx Press, 2002.
- University of Michigan -- Museum of Zoology: http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Puma_yagouaroundi.html
- NHPTV -- Nature Works: http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/jagurandi.htm
- Photo by Joachim S. Müller