Jaguars - Panthera onca
The Jaguar (Panthera onca) is a big cat belonging to the Panthera genus, and is the only Panthera species found in the Americas. It ranks third in size after the tiger and the lion, and the largest cat in the Western Hemisphere. The jaguar's present range extends from Southwestern United States and Mexico across much of Central America and south to Paraguay and northern Argentina. Apart from a known and possibly breeding population in Arizona (southeast of Tucson), the cat has largely been exterminated from the United States since the early 20th century.|
This Jaguar is a spotted cat that is often mistaken for a leopard. It is usually larger and of sturdier build and its behavioral and habitat characteristics are closer to those of the tiger. While dense rainforest is its preferred habitat, the jaguar will range across a variety of forested and open terrains. It is strongly associated with the presence of water and is notable, along with the tiger, as a feline that enjoys swimming.
Female Jaguars can weigh anywhere up to over 200 pounds while the much larger males have been recorded to weigh as much as 350 pounds. They can range in length up to 6.5 feet, from the nose to the base of the tail and stand about 2 to 2 1/2 feet tall at the shoulder. Jaguars are apex predators and largely a solitary, opportunistic, stalk-and-ambush hunter. Theh have an exceptionally powerful bite, relative to the other big cats. Unlike other big cats that kill by stragulation, Jaguars kill their prey by biting directly through the skull of their victim to deliver a fatal blow.
The Jaguar is a near threatened species and its numbers are declining. Threats include loss and fragmentation of habitat. While international trade in Jaguars or their parts is prohibited, the cat is still frequently killed by humans, particularly in conflicts with ranchers and farmers in South America.
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