Jaguars are the largest of South America’s big cats and the third-largest cats in the world. The third biggest in the world after tigers and lions. They look a lot like leopards, which live in Africa and Asia, but jaguars’ spots are more complex and often have a dot in the center.
These powerful cats were worshiped as gods in many ancient South American cultures, and representations of the jaguar show up in the art and archaeology of pre-Columbian cultures across the jaguar’s range. The word ‘jaguar’ comes from the indigenous word ‘jaguar’, which means ‘he who kills with one leap’.
Size – Head and body, five to six feet; tail, 27.5 to 36 inches and weight:100 to 250 pounds.
Unlike many domestic cats, jaguars don’t avoid water. They often live near lakes, rivers and wetlands, and are confident swimmers, known to cross large rivers.
Both males and females roar, which helps bring them together when they want to mate. A jaguar’s usual call is called a ‘saw’ because it sounds like the sawing of wood – but with the saw only moving in one direction.
Jaguars are opportunistic hunters and can prey upon almost anything they come across. Capybaras, deer, tortoises, iguanas, armadillos, fish, birds and monkeys are just some of the prey that jaguars eat. They can even tackle South America’s largest animal, the tapir, and huge predators like caiman.