The jaguar is the biggest cat in the Americas and only smaller than the lion and tiger in terms of big cats. It is well known for its love for water, abilities to climb, and beautiful pelt with rosette-shaped spots. It is a near-threatened species in terms of conservation because poachers are always looking for its gorgeous pelt to sell.

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Panthera onca

PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES: The jaguar can be between 85 and 230 pounds and up to seven feet long. The rosette-shaped spots define its pelt. It also has spots inside of its rosettes. The fur is normally yellow or tan in color; however there are also melanistic jaguars that are all black.

LIFE SPAN: 11 to 12 years (in the wild); about 20 years (in captivity)

HABITAT: South/Central America; mostly in the Amazon Basin-rainforests, swamps, and savannahs


SIMILAR SPECIES: Jaguars are similar to leopards in looks, but more like tigers in behavior.