Jaguar

A Jaguar using its strong jaw to crush the skull of its prey.

Jaguars behave similarly to other big cats in that they mostly live alone, are carnivores, and communicate through vocalizations (roars, growls). They are known for their stocky builds, strong jaws, and skills with swimming and climbing.


DIET AND HUNTING PATTERNS

Jaguars are carnivores. Rivers provide prey in the form of fish, turtles, or caimans-small, alligator-like animals. Jaguars also eat larger animals such as deer, peccaries, capybaras, and tapirs, and they sometimes climb trees to prepare an ambush, landing on and killing their prey with one powerful bite. They have incredibly strong jaws, so when they kill their prey, they normally just bite straight through the victims' skull, killing them instantly. Jaguars are generally solitary animals, so they hunt alone.


MATING AND FAMILY LIFE

Normally, jaguars live alone, except during mating season. However, only the parents will stay with the cubs for about two years after birth. The gestation period for the female is 90 to 110 days (about three months). During this time, the male and female jaguars live together. At the end of the period, the female jaguar will give birth to a litter of one to four cubs. They are born blind and don't open their eyes until about a week after birth. For the next two years, the cubs live with their parents, learning how to hunt and defend themselves. After this period, the jaguar family disbands. The parents don't stay together, and the young cubs move out to live and hunt on their own until they find mates.


COMMUNICATION AND BEHAVIOR

The jaguar communicates with vocalizations, which are grunts. Males typically have more powerful grunts than females, except during mating season. During this time, females grunt all night into the early morning, using five to seven grunts to announce themselves. Males respond with low guttural vocalizations. Jaguars also communicate with one another using their roar. The roar sounds like a deep cough. Listen to a jaguar roar They are mostly nocturnal, but they can be active during any time of the day. They also like to hang around in the shade of rocks, caves, or thick vegetation.


ENRICHMENT (IN THE WILD AND IN CAPTIVITY)

Jaguars love to climb and swim both in the wild and in captivity. They utilize these skills for hunting purposes, but also like to engage in them for fun. In captivity, jaguar habitats will often have large horizontal branches on which they can climb. Also, in man-made habitats, caretakers will hide food inside tree branches in order to make it more challenging for the animals to find their food.