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Jaguars (Panthera onca) are sizable felines. In fact they are the heftiest in that category within their geographic scope, which includes the southwestern United States, Brazil, French Guiana, Belize, Venezuela and Mexico. As tough and sturdy carnivores, jaguars are big on the consumption of animals -- and only animals.
Jaguar Basic Information
Adult jaguars, on average, weigh in at between 100 and 250 pounds, with typical lengths of between 5 and 6 feet. The females are just a little smaller than the males. They have strapping physiques that are covered in brownish-golden fur, adorned in black blotting. These blots are frequently referred to as "rosettes" due to their rose-like outlines. The lower portions of jaguars' bodies are white. Jaguars occasionally sport blackish coats that make picking out their blots a lot more time-consuming, although they always have them. Specimens with this coloration are often labeled as melanistic jaguars.
No Animal Predators
When it comes to predation by other animals, jaguars, like many of their fellow massive felines, are practically untouchable. As apex predators, jaguars usually don't have to worry about other animals trying to eat them. Jaguars, for the most part, do the eating.
Humans as Predators
Humans sometimes try to eat jaguars, and they often succeed at it. Some people hunt and dine on the meat of these cats in Colombia, specifically in the nation's Choco region. Apart from purposes of eating, people often unlawfully prey on jaguars for numerous other purposes, namely the acquisition of their teeth, paws and fur. Since jaguars are clandestine and have rather inconspicuous coloration, they can often stay low key when people are nearby, however. Farmers also occasionally destroy jaguars due to their penchants for going after cattle.
Prey for Jaguars
Instead of thinking about all of the animals that don't try to eat jaguars, think about all of the animals that jaguars themselves routinely enjoy as dinner. Jaguars focus on at least 85 species as prey. Some of the jaguars' regular targets include deer, peccaries, tapirs, rabbits, turtles, sheep, cows, porcupines, horses, snakes, fish, caimans and capybaras. Jaguars' bites are pretty ferocious -- often tough enough to cut through turtles' hard shells. Once jaguars have killed their prey, they lug their bodies to isolated areas to dine on them in peace.
- Panthera: Jaguars
- National Geographic: Jaguar
- Natural Science Research Laboratory: Jaguar
- NatureWorks: Jaguar
- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: Panthera Onca
- IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Panthera Onca
- University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web: Panthera Onca
- ProCAT: Occasional Jaguar Hunting for Subsistence in Colombian Choco
- Kim Steele/Photodisc/Getty Images