gwuh ruhn' dE] Herpailurus yaguarundi
This member of the cat family
is often mistaken for a weasel or otter and is
even known as an "otter cat" in parts
of its range. It has a long slender body, very
short legs, small flattened head, and small
rounded ears, is 3-4½ feet long, including a
tail that is up to 2 feet long, stands 10-24
inches at the shoulder, and weighs 8-16 pounds.
Jaguarundis come in one of two colors,
rusty-brown or charcoal gray. Unlike most other
wild cats of the Americas, jaguarundis do not
have spots except as juveniles, but those that
are gray usually have two white patches under the
nose and rusty-brown ones may have a white or
The jaguarundi ranges from
extreme southern Texas, through Mexico and
Central America, to northern Argentina. It lives
in a variety of habitats but is most common in
dense, thorny shrublands. It makes its home in a
natural cave, under a bank, or in tall grass.
The jaguarundi preys on birds,
rabbits, and small rodents. Prey is usually
stalked and then pounced upon, but jaguarundis
have been seen climbing into trees after prey,
and will also spring straight up into the air to
catch birds on the wing. They will also readily
enter water to catch fish.
Breeding may occur any time of
the year. One to four spotted kittens are born
after a gestation period of 70-75 days. They are
weaned at about one month of age, are independent
by their tenth month, and are sexually mature at
two to three years. A jaguarundi can live up to
15 years in the wild.
Other Habits and
Jaguarundis appear to be
solitary except for breeding. They maintain
unusually large home ranges, but it is not known
whether they actively defend them. They are very
vocal, with over a dozen separate vocalizations
known, including purrs, whistles, screams,
chatters, yaps, and even bird-like chirps.
Jaguarundis are threatened by
habitat destruction, but their elusiveness makes
it difficult to determine how many of them exist
in the wild.
genus & species Herpailurus yaguarundi
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