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:
- Scientific Name:
- Panthera onca
- Average Life Span In The Wild:
- 12 to 15 years
- Head and body, five to six feet; tail, 27.5 to 36 inches
- 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.