Common Name: Jaguarundi
Range: The Jaguarundi is an animal that is native to Central America. It can also be found in the central countries and northern America to Argentina – it is rarely sighted in several parts of New Mexico and Texas in the southern United States. It is found mainly in forests of Costa Rica.
Size: The total body length of a Jaguarondi may be around 50 cm whereas up to 70 cm is not uncommon,(22-30 inches) with the largest ones reaching up to 77 cm. The tail is around 30-60cm (13 -23.50inches) long.
Weight: The Jaguarundi is the cat, which is least similar to the cat family. The weight varies from around 3.5kg to up to 9kg (10-20 lbs)
Diet: The prime preys are different types of reptiles, rats, mice, ground feeding birds, fish, frog , rodents and small mammal.
Average life span: The average life spans of jaguarindi are 10-20 years.
Habitat: The habitat of Jaguarundi includes the bushes areas in the low-lands. There can also be sources of water like a stream or river close by for the habitat of this cat. Sometimes these cats are also found in the highlands up to a height of 3200m. These cats are also different in the sense that they are more active during the day than the night. They are nice climbers and feel happy in trees but they like to be on the land, mainly to hunt. They are available in the National Parks of Costa Rica like Corcovado National Park, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Santa Rosa National Park, Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve, and San Jose; may also be found in Sirena Biological Station, San Vito and La Selva.
Breeding/Reproduction: After having a gestation period of 60 – 75 days Jaguarundis give birth to 2 – 4 blind and helpless kittens. In the tropical and subtropical reagions regions, breeding is not restricted to the season. In several regions, breeding can take place twice in a year, during March and August.
The kittens are weaned at about 2 months after that their mother will teach the techniques of hunt and save them from predators. They will usually become independent at around 10 months. They reach at sexual maturity at approximately 2 – 3 years of age.
The Jaguarundi belongs to the family of Felidae. It is a very different species of cat and it is found in Northern and Southern America. It has a weasel like body and has an elongated body with has short legs. Jaguarundis have round ears and a flat head. It does not have spots like all other cats of Costa Rica. It has a long tail. The color of the Jaguarundi varies. It has two main colors one of them is blackish brown and the other is reddish yellow. In old times the two colored Jaguarundis were known as two different species. But now they have been joined and have been given the name of Jaguarundi. In the rainforests of Costa Rica the Dark Jaguarundi is more common than the red one.
They are 55-65 cm long including their head. Their tails is approximately 31-61 cm long. They weigh about 4.5-9 kg.
It can be mistaken for tayra due to its weasel like body. But it can be distinguished by tayra as it does not have any spot on its body but the tayra has yellowish spots on its body. It is not difficult to differentiate between the two species if the spots on the bodies are kept in mind.
The Jaguarundi has a wide range of habitats including rain forests, damp, dry, open and suffocating places. So it can be seen anywhere.
They also differ in habits from the new world cats. They love to travel and travel throughout the day and they are more terrestrial than the other species found in Costa Rica. So many fights occur between them for their territories. They are quite active during the day and are an excellent climber.
Their food includes animals, reptiles and fishes. They also eat birds. They capture the birds by jumping up to 2 meter high in the air. This is a unique quality other cats of Costa Rica do not do this.
Scientists are still working to know about their breeding behavior. They live individually or in pairs. It takes 70-75 days for the female to give birth to the young ones. It gives birth to 2-4 baby jaguarondis at a time. The female chooses a dense place to give birth to the young ones. The young ones live with their mother for up to 58 days and then leave. They become sexually mature at the age of 2-3 years. Then they are able to participate in breeding and producing offspring. They mostly live for 15 years.
As Jaguarundi have open habitat they can be seen anywhere in the region of Costa Rica. Some people who see them often think that they are quite abundant but this is not actually the case they are now in very few numbers than the old times. They are disappearing due to the destruction of the forests. They are greatly killed by the farmers for saving their cattle. They are very valuable species so they should be protected. They have a great role in maintaining the ecosystem.
This Jaguarundi has two phases of life, having a change of color. This was a reason for people to earlier believe that they were two animals. The red color phase and the grey color phase are the two phases of it’s life. In Spanish, it is also called ‘leoncillo’ meaning ‘little-lion’.
There is a peculiar thing about this species of cat. The strange proportion of the elongated body and long tail gives it an appearance of a marten. Sometimes it is even nicknamed as the otter-cats. The skin is uniformly colored and is completely plain. The color can vary anything between the grayish colors to the reddish ones.
The Jaguarundi are famous for making various types of sounds right from chatter to purr to whistles to chirping and even yap sounds. Tough there is not much concern for the conservation because these cats are not killed for their fur but they are said to be more endangered due to decrease in their habitat.