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What Do Jaguars Eat?

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Jaguars are South America’s biggest cats. They once lived all over the South continent, nowadays they only live in remote locations, particularly in the Amazon basin. The name Jaguar comes from the word “yaguar”, a Native American word, meaning “he who kills with one strike”.

Jaguar yawningThe common Jaguar (Panthera onca). Photo by MarcusObal (Wikimedia).

Jaguars like water

Unlike many big cats, they don’t avoid water. In fact, they are quite fond of it and are good swimmers as well. They like to live near rivers, since it provides a part of their regular diet, such as fish, small alligators and turtles. The other part of their diet consists of other creatures like deer, tapirs, and monkeys. When far from water, they like to be in green forests, but they can adapt to grassland as well. The forest, however, is more ideal since it allows them to hunt for their prey a lot more easily.

Jaguars are efficient hunters

The powerful jaw muscles have enabled the Jaguar to develop an uncommon killing technique. Jaguars are formidable predators and are very fond of a large piece of meat, while other predators attack their prey at the neck, jaguars don’t use this method when hunting. They rather attack by biting the back of the prey’s head, and piercing the brain with its canine. They are known to have the strongest jaws among felines.

They are very intelligent animals

They prefer to approach the prey by stalking rather than chasing it. They are capable of killing while they swim, and can carry an animal twice their size on top of a tree. After it has killed its prey, it drags the prey to a quiet place and starts feasting on it. They always start eating the prey by their chests, beginning with the heart. They are very skilled climbers. This ability enables them to catch a distracted monkey, or carry their prey to tree tops, away from other predators.

Jaguars are often mistaken as leopards

The jaguar is often confused with the Leopard, even though it has shorter limbs and is much more muscular. The leopard is a predator that lives in Africa, it can attack large prey but mostly feeds on small prey like monkeys. While they resemble one another closely, their hunting techniques couldn’t be more different. The Leopard usually attacks the throat of its prey. They are very good climbers but not as adept as jaguars. They like to hunt at night, since stalking is much easier than in broad daylight.

Jaguars are endangered

Jaguars are remarkable creatures that managed to survive in spite of being hunted for their magnificent fur for ages. The best place to see a jaguar is in the jungles of Suriname. There are only around 15,000 jaguars in the wild and they are still endangered by poaching and deforestation.

More on big cats

  1. Cheetahs
  2. Lions

More on jaguars: Facts about jaguars.