Jaguars are the largest of South America's big cats and the third largest cats in the world.
Jaguars are the largest of South America's big cats and the third largest cats in the world.
Photograph by Tom Brakefield

Jaguar

Jaguars are the largest of South America's big cats and the third largest cats in the world. Their fur is usually tan or orange with black spots, called "rosettes" because they are shaped like roses. Some jaguars are so dark they don't seem to have spots.

Common Name:
Jaguars
Scientific Name:
Panthera onca
Type:
Mammals
Diet:
Carnivore
Average Life Span In The Wild:
12 to 15 years
Size:
Head and body, five to six feet; tail, 27.5 to 36 inches
Weight:
100 to 250 pounds

Unlike many other cats, jaguars do not avoid water; in fact, they are quite good swimmers. Rivers provide prey in the form of fish, turtles, or caimans—small, alligatorlike animals. Jaguars also eat larger animals such as deer, peccaries, capybaras, and tapirs. They sometimes climb trees to prepare an ambush, killing their prey with one powerful bite.

Because of their size, strength, and predatory skills, jaguars are considered one of the “big cats.” Tigers, leopards, cheetahs, and cougars are also part of this grouping.

Take the big cat quiz to see how much you know about these fierce felines. Then, just for fun, see which wild cat you’re most like with our personality quiz.