Jaguarundi Facts

Jaguarundi Profile

The jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi) is a wild cat native to central and south America. It has a weasel-like appearance, with a long body and short legs.

jaguarundi facts

Jaguarundi Facts Overview

Habitat: Wide range, including open areas and both humid and dry forests
Location: Central and South America
Lifespan: 15 years in captivity
Size: ~70cm in length, ~360mm at the shoulder
Weight: 3.5-7kg
Color: Gray or red
Diet: Small mammals, reptiles, birds, frogs, and fish
Predators: Cougars and boa constrictors
Top Speed: 96 kmh
No. of Species:
Conservation Status:
Least concern

They are carnivores, hunting small animals such as birds, mammals, and reptiles.

They are primarily terrestrial, preferring to hunt from the ground, however they are both excellent climbers and swimmers.

They are usually solitary, although are sometimes found in pairs. They have litters of up to 4 kittens.

Interesting Jaguarundi Facts

1. They are about twice as big as a house cat

This makes them pretty big, but this is still small compared to the cougars or jaguars which also inhabit the region.

jaguarundi sitting

2. They are similar in appearance to weasels and otters

They have elongated bodies, short legs, a long tail, and small squished faces.

3. They are very shy

You will struggle to see these cats in the wild as they are shy and reclusive. This partly explains why so little is known about them. 1

4. They are usually solitary

They have sometimes been found in pairs, but this is likely mothers and older offspring or mating pairs.

jaguarundi pair

5. Their closest relative is the cougar

However, cougars are much bigger than the medium-size jaguarundi.

6. The oldest fossil of a jaguarundi dates to 0.5 million years ago

This fossil is from the late Pleistocene era and was found in Brazil.

7. They have a big range

They can be found all the way from Argentina to Mexico.

8. They are active during the day

This is a little unusual for wild cats. They seem to prefer hunting in the mornings, which may be because it helps them avoid other wild cats.

9. They are terrestrial

While other wild cats inhabiting forests may prefer to stick to the trees, these cats hunt primarily on the ground. However, they are also proficient climbers.

10. They can swim across rivers

These cats often inhabit rainforests, where they will swim across medium-sized rivers.

11. They can leap as high as 2m into the air

They do this when hunting birds.

12. They are vocal

They have been recorded making 13 different calls, including screaming, purring, whistling, and yapping.

jaguarundi being vocal

13. They have a tendency to steal chickens

They are often found eating domestic chickens, leading to conflict with farmers. 2

jaguarundi stealing chickens

14. They have litters of up to 4 kittens

These kittens live in dens constructed in dense undergrowth.

Jaguarundi Fact-File Summary

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Feliformia
Family: Felidae
Species Name:
Herpailurus Yagouaroundi

Fact Sources & References

  1. Rick J. ADW: Puma yagouaroundi: INFORMATION. Animal Diversity Web. Accessed July 14, 2021.
  2. Herpailurus yagouaroundi, Jaguarundi THE IUCN RED LIST OF THREATENED SPECIESTM. 2015. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-2.RLTS.T9948A50653167.EN