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Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

In addition to its unique appearance, the jaguarundi differs from other small New World cats in many aspects of its biology and behaviour. Individuals travel widely in unusually large home ranges and are more terrestrial than many other species, though are also agile climbers (2) (3) (6) (7). The jaguarundi is also much more diurnal than most cats (3) (10) (11). The diet consists mainly of small mammals, birds and reptiles, as well as occasional amphibians, fish and larger mammals (2) (3) (4) (6). Arthropods and some fruit may also be taken (7) (10). The jaguarundi has been observed to jump up to two metres off the ground to swat at birds in the air (6). The breeding behaviour of the jaguarundi is less well known (6). It is believed to live either alone or in pairs (2) (3) (7), and may breed year-round in the tropics, although one or two distinct breeding seasons have been suggested for northern parts of the range (3) (7). The female gives birth to between one and four young after a gestation period of 70 to 75 days (3) (6) (8). The young are born in a den, typically located in a dense thicket, hollow tree, fallen log, or thick grassy clump (6) (7). Like the adult, the young usually lack spots, although some report the newborns to be dark-spotted (2) (4) (6). Young jaguarundis leave the den after about 28 days, reaching sexual maturity at around two to three years, and living for up to 15 years (3) (7) (8).
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Description

The jaguarundi is one of the most unusual of the New World cat species, being in appearance more like a weasel or otter than a cat. The body is long and slender, with short legs, a small, flattened head, short, rounded ears, and a long tail. Unlike many other small South American cats, the coat lacks spots, but the jaguarundi is probably the most variable in colour of all wild cats (2) (3) (4) (6). The species occurs in two main colour morphs: a dark morph, which is uniform black, brownish or grey in colour, sometimes slightly lighter on the underparts, and a paler red morph, which may vary from tawny yellow to bright chestnut red (2) (3) (6). Individual hairs tend to be lighter on the base and the tip, giving some individuals a grizzled appearance (7). The red morph was once considered a separate species, Felis eyra, but it is now known that individuals of both colours can occur in the same population and even in the same litter (6) (7) (8). In general, the dark morph is believed to be more common in rainforest habitats, and the paler morph in drier environments (2) (8). Owing to its weasel-like appearance, the dark morph jaguarundi is often mistaken for the tayra (Eira barbara), a large mustelid, but can be distinguished by the absence of the tayra's yellowish throat spot (2) (6) (7). The jaguarundi is quite a vocal cat, with at least 13 distinct calls recorded, including a purr, whistle, scream, chatter, yap, and a bird-like “chirp” (6) (7).
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Distribution

The current range of jaguarundis is from southern Texas and Arizona to northern Argentina. Sightings in Arizona and Texas are often not well documented, thus the status of jaguarundis in these states is not well known. Sightings have also been reported in Florida. These sightings are most likely a result of a human introduced population.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Introduced , Native ); neotropical (Native )

  • 2003. Jaguarundi: Herpailurus yaguaroundi . Pp. 390 in M Hutchins, D Kleiman, V Geist, M McDade, eds. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Vol. 14, 2nd Edition. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group.
  • Nowak, R. 1999. Felis yagouaroundi. Pp. 800 in Walker's Mammals of the World, Vol. 1, 6th Edition. Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press.
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Listed Cats of Texas and Arizona Recovery Plan (With Emphasis on the Ocelot). Albuquerque, New Mexico: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1990. Accessed March 28, 2004 at http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/recovery_plans/1990/900822.pdf.
  • de Oliveira, T. 1998. Herpailurus yagouaroundi. Mammalian Species, 578: 1-6. Accessed March 28, 2004 at http://www.science.smith.edu/departments/Biology/VHAYSSEN/msi/pdf/i0076-3519-578-01-0001.pdf.
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Range Description

The jaguarundi occurs from the eastern lowlands of Chipinque National Park in Nuevo Leon, MX (NE limit) and the western lowlands of Mexico, all the way to southern Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay (Dotta et al. 2007) and south through central Argentina at ca. 39ºS. This is predominantly a lowland species ranging up to 2,000 m, but in Colombia has been reported up to 3,200 m (Cuervo et al. 1986) It is probably extinct in the US (south Texas) (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002, A. Caso pers. comm. 2007).
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occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Southern Arizona and Texas south through Mexico to Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, French Guiana, Guyana, Surinam, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina (Wozencraft, in Wilson and Reeder 1993). There is one sight record from Arizona (1938, northwestern edge of the Huachuca Mountains, Santa Cruz County), but there are no records from Sonora or Chihuahua; Hoffmeister (1986) regarded the inclusion of this species in the fauna of Arizona as "most questionable." Texas population probably consists of only a few individuals; recent sightings in Brazoria County south of Houston, Texas, may have been of released animals (Matthews and Moseley 1990). A small population may have become established recently in Florida through introduction by human agency (Nowak 1991); this population is well established according to Kitchener (1991). To elevations of 2200 m (Emmons and Feer 1990).

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Range

The jaguarundi has a wide distribution across North, Central and South America, from southern Texas in the United States, south as far as northern Argentina (1) (2) (6) (7). It has also been reported from Arizona (4) (7), but its status here remains unclear (7) (9), and the species may in fact now be extinct in the United States (1).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Superficially, jaguarundis resemble members of the family Mustelidae. This caused early German zoologists to refer to the species as the “weasel cat.” Compared to other small neotropical felids, jaguarundis have a more elongated body, smaller, more rounded ears, and shorter limbs relative to body size. They are unspotted. The species that most resembles jaguarundis is Prionailurus planiceps, commonly referred to as flat-headed cats. However, jaguarundis can be easily distinguished from this other species, and are slightly longer and heavier.

Jaguarundis are slightly larger than domesticated house cats. The head and body length may range from 505 to 770 mm. The tail is long, ranging from 330 to 600 mm. Shoulder height is approximately 350 mm, and the weight ranges from 4.5 to 9.0 kg. Males are slightly larger and heavier than females of the same population.

Two color morphs are present in H. yaguarondi. One is dark grayish-black, and the other is reddish in color. This caused the species to be originally classified as two separate species: “eyra” for the blackish coat and “jaguarundi” for the reddish coat. Local villagers sometimes refer to jaguarundis as “eyras.” Despite the differences in coat color, it has been determined that the two color morphs do mate, and litters are observed containing both. The coat is generally uniform in color, but may be slightly paler on the ventral side. Populations inhabiting tropical rainforests are generally darker and populations inhabiting dryer habitats are often paler than other populations. It has been hypothesized that the coats of jaguarundis get darker during the winter. Kittens are sometimes spotted at birth but lose their markings before adulthood.

Range mass: 4.5 to 9 kg.

Range length: 505 to 770 mm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry ; polymorphic

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger

  • Guggisberg, C. 1975. Wild Cats of the World. New York: Taplinger Pub. Co..
  • Hershkovitz, P. 1999. Jaguarundi. Pp. 666 in Encyclopedia Americana, Vol. 15, Year 1999 Edition. Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier.
  • Leopold, A. 1959. Wildlife of Mexico; The Game Birds and Mammals. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
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Size

Length: 137 cm

Weight: 8100 grams

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Ecology

Habitat

Belizean Pine Forests Habitat

This species is found in the Belizean pine forests along the Central America's northwestern Caribbean Sea coast; the ecoregion exhibits relatively well preserved fragments of vegetation as well as a considerable abundance of fauna. This ecoregion comprises a geographically small portion of the total land area of the ecoregions of Belize. There is relatively low endemism in the Belizean pine forests, and only a moderate species richness here; for example, only 447 vertebrate taxa have been recorded in the ecoregion. The ecoregion represents one of the few examples of lowland and premontane pine forests in the Neotropics, where the dominant tree species is Honduran Pine (Pinus caribaea var. hondurensis), which requires periodic low intensity burns for its regeneration. The vegetation is adapted to the xeric, acidic and nutrient-poor conditions that occur primarily in the dry season.

In the forest of the Maya Mountains, vegetation reaches higher altitudes, the topography is more rugged and crossed by various rivers, and nighttime temperatures are lower. The pine trees are larger and numerous, and the pine forest intersects other formations of interest such as rainforest, Cohune Palm (corozal), cactus associations, and others. About eleven percent of Belize is covered by natural pine vegetation. Only two percent represents totally closed forests; three percent semi-closed forests; and the remaining six percent pine savannas, that occupy coastal areas and contain isolated pine trees or stands of pine trees separated by extensive pastures. In addition to human activity, edaphic factors are a determining matter in this distribution, since the forests on the northern plain and southern coastal zone are on sandy soils or sandy-clay soils and usually have less drainage than the more fertile soils in the center of the country.

At elevations of 650 to 700 metres, the forests transition to premontane in terms of vegetation. At these higher levels, representative tree species are Egg-cone Pine (Pinus oocarpa), which crosses with Honduras Pine (P. hondurensis), where distributions overlap, although belonging to subsections of different genera; British Honduras Yellowwood (Podocarpus guatemalensis)  and Quercus spp.; moreover, and in even more moist areas there is a predominance of Jelecote Pine (Pinus patula), together with the palm Euterpe precatoria var. longivaginata and the arboreal ferns Cyathea myosuroides and Hemitelia multiflora.

A number of reptilian species are found in the Belizean pine forests, including: Guatemala Neckband Snake (Scaphiodontophis annulatus); Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais); On the coasts, interior lakes and rivers of Belize and by extension in this ecoregion there are two species of threatened crocodiles: American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) and Morelet's Crocodile (C. moreletii), while observation of the Central American River Turtle (Dermatemys mawii CR) is not uncommon in this ecoregion.

Also to be noted is the use of this habitat by the Mexican Black Howler (Alouatta pigra), which can be considered the most endangered howler monkey of the genus, and the Central American spider monkey (Atteles geoffroyi). Both species experienced a decline due to the epidemic yellow fever that swept the country in the 1950s. The five feline species that exist in Belize: Jaguar (Panthera onca), Puma (F. concolor), Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), Margay (Leopardus wiedii) and Jaguarundí (Herpailurus yagouaroundi) are in appendix I of CITES, as well as the Central American tapir (Tapirus bairdii) can been seen with relative frequency. Belize has the highest density of felines in Central America. The tapir is abundant around rivers. The White-lipped Peccary (Tayassu pecari) is also present in the ecoregion.

Although most of the amphibians and reptiles are found in humid premontane and lowland forests, the only endemic frog in this ecoregion, Maya Mountains Frog (Lithobates juliani), is restricted to the Mountain Pine Ridge in the Maya Mountains. Salamanders in the ecoregion are represented by the Alta Verapaz Salamander (Bolitoglossa dofleini NT), whose males are arboreal, while females live under logs. Anuran taxa found in the ecoregion include: Rio Grande Frog (Lithobates berlandieri); Sabinal Frog (Leptodactylus melanonotus); Northern Sheep Frog (Hypopachus variolosus); Stauffer's Long-nosed Treefrog (Scinax staufferi); and Tungara Treefrog (Engystomops pustulosus).

Present in the ecoregion are a number of avian species, including the endangered Yellow-headed Amazon Parrot (Amazona oratrix EN), although this bird is adversely affected by ongoing habitat destruction.  Of particular interest is the presence in this ecoregion of Central America's highest procreative colony of Jabiru (Jabiru mycteria), a large migratory bird, particularly in the Crooked Tree sanctuary, on the country's northern plains.

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Herpailurus yaguarondi demonstrates habitat flexibility. These cats have been recorded in grasslands/savannas, shrub lands, tropical rainforest, tropical deciduous forest, dense chaparral, thickets, and scrubland. They are often sighted near water and may inhabit swamps and areas near streams, rivers and lakes. Jaguarundis are most often found in secondary vegetation but are also found in primary habitats, and have been sighted in forests near villages. They live up to an elevation of at least 3200 m.

Range elevation: sea level to 3200 m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; chaparral ; forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest

Wetlands: swamp

Other Habitat Features: agricultural ; riparian

  • Denis, A. 1964. Cats of the World. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
  • Emmons, L. 1990. Neotropical Rainforest Mammals: A Field Guide. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.
  • Mares, M., R. Ojeda, R. Barquez. 1989. Guide to the Mammals of Salta Province, Argentina. Norman and London: University of Oklahoma Press.
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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
The jaguarundi occupies a broad range of both open and closed habitats, from Monte desert, semi-arid thorn scrub, restinga, swamp and savanna woodland to primary rainforest (Nowell and Jackson 1996). However, in open areas it sticks to vegetative cover, including secondary growth habitat, disturbed areas, and human induced grasslands (Mexico), open areas with some protection, provided forest or other dense cover is present (Oliveira 1994, A. Caso pers. comm.). This felid is perceived as more tolerant of human disturbance due to its use of open habitats.

This small-sized felid (5 kg) body shape suggests the species to be mostly terrestrial. However, it moves about easily in trees (Oliveira 1994). Its litter size is 1.9 kittens (1–4). Because it is mostly diurnal, it tends to be the most easily seen Neotropical felid, which lead to the false assumption it was common. Diet includes mostly small mammals, birds and reptiles, with a mean prey mass of 380 g. However, larger sized prey (>1 kg) are not unusual (Oliveira and Cassaro 2005, Oliveira et al. in press). Home range size varies greatly, ranging up to 100 km², larger than for any other Neotropical small cat (Konecny 1989). The species is not the dominant small cat species in most areas, even in most areas of open habitats. Additionally, jaguarundi is also negatively impacted by ocelots (the “ocelot effect”) (Oliveira et al. in press). It has several colour morphs - brownish-black, grey and reddish yellow - which can even be found in the same litter (Oliveira 1998).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Comments: Thick brushlands (patchy or continuous) in U.S. Throughout rest of range, prefers tropical forests and swamps, lowland forests and thickets. Habitat near water is favored. May be more common in deciduous or secondary forest than in rainforest; can live in secondary vegetation near villages (Emmons and Feer 1990). Spends most of time on ground, though climbs well. Sleeping and birthing occur in a den in a hollow log, treefall, or dense thicket.

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The jaguarundi inhabits a broad range of both open and closed habitats, including rainforest, swamp and savanna woodland, savanna, thickets, and semi-arid thorn scrub. It may also occur in secondary vegetation and disturbed areas, but is thought to prefer areas with at least some dense ground cover (2) (6) (7) (8). A mainly lowland species, the jaguarundi can be found at elevations of up to 2,000 metres, though may occur at up to 3,200 metres in some areas (6) (7) (8).
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Migration

Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

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Trophic Strategy

Jaguarundis are carnivores and hunt a variety of small mammals, reptiles, birds, frogs, and fish. Besides animal matter, jaguarundis stomach contents often contain a small amount of plant material and arthropods. Birds are often the prey of choice and the jaguarundi diet usually includes junglefowl.

Mammals that are preyed upon: eastern cottontails, short-tailed cane mice, Brazilian guinea pigs, and spiny rats.

Reptiles: South American ground lizards, rainbow whiptails, and green iguanas.

Animal Foods: birds; mammals; amphibians; reptiles; fish; insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods

Plant Foods: leaves

Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates)

  • Bisbal, F. 1986. Food Habits of some neotropical carnivores in Venezuela (Mammalia, Carnivora). Mammalia, 50(3): 329-340.
  • Manzani, P., E. Monteiro Filho. 1989. Notes on the food habits of the jaguarundi, Felis yagouaroundi . Mammalia, 53(4): 659-660.
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Comments: Diet consists mainly of birds (sometimes including domestic poultry), reptiles, and small mammals (e.g., rats, mice, rabbits); occasionally may eat fishes and fruit.

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Associations

Jaguarundis are predators of many small mammal species as well as reptiles, birds, frogs, and fish. Jaguarundis also compete for resources with other carnivores including margays, ocelots, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, and mountain lions. However, jaguarundis avoid direct competition with margays and ocelots through their diurnal and terrestrial behavior.

Several known parasites use jaguarundis as hosts. These include several species of tapeworms, hookworms, and acanthocephalans.

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The predation pressures that jaguarundis face as well as anti-predator adaptations are unknown.

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Known prey organisms

Herpailurus yaguarondi preys on:
Nasua nasua
Leontopithecus caissara

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80

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Global Abundance

2500 - 10,000 individuals

Comments: No rangewide population estimates are available. Apparently uncommon or rare everywhere (Emmons and Feer 1990).

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General Ecology

Reported to live in pairs in Paraguay but to be solitary in Mexico (Nowak 1991). Travels widely in a huge home range (Emmons and Feer 1990). Population density in Costa Rica was estimated at 25-330/sq km (see Kitchener 1991). In Belize, a female used a home range that varied between 13-20 square kilometers, while two males had home ranges of 100 and 88 square kilometers (Konecny 1989).

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Felids characteristically have well developed senses of sight, hearing, and smell. Jaguarundis have a larger vocal repertoire than other members of the family occupying the same range. Thirteen distinct calls have been reported in captivity including contact calls, greeting and attention calls, and warning signals. Mothers often call their kittens with a short purr and the kittens answer with repeated short peeps. When warning others to stay away, a jaguarundi will give a loud hiss and/or spit. Faint cries are given by a female to signal that she is in estrus. She also urinates to leave chemical signals that she is in heat. Other scent marking habits include urine spraying, head rubbing, and claw scraping. Behaviors such as flehmen, hind feet scraping, and neck rubbing have also been observed in captive jaguarundis.

Tactile communication occurs between a mother and her offspring, as well as between mates (males bite the necks of females during copulation). Visual signals, although not specifically reported in jaguarundis, are common in cats, and are likey to occur in this mainly diurnal species.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Other Communication Modes: pheromones ; scent marks

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

  • Vaughan, T., J. Ryan, N. Czaplewski. 2000. Mammalogy. Philadelphia: Saunders College Publishing.
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Cyclicity

Comments: Diurnal and nocturnal (Emmons and Feer 1990). Hunts in the morning and evening; much less nocturnal than most cats (Nowak 1991).

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Life Expectancy

It is not known what the lifespan of H. yaguarondi is in the wild. In captivity they have lived up to 15 years of age. In captivity the causes of death have included respiratory diseases, disorders of the urogenital system, cardiovascular disease, and diseases of the digestive system. There have also been reports of cancer, choking, and poisoning in captivity.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
15 (high) years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 18.6 years (captivity) Observations: One captive specimen lived 18.6 years (Richard Weigl 2005).
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Reproduction

Little is known about the mating system of jaguarundis. Recently, pairs have been sighted occupying a territory, and more than one pair may often occupy the same territory, but the reproductive significance of these associations is not known at this time.

Members of the family Felidae are generally polygamous.

Female jaguarundis reach sexual maturity at about two to three years of age. In most of its tropical range, H. yaguarondi has no definitive reproductive season, and breeding may occur year-round. In Mexico, the breeding season is reported to occur during November and December. Litters are often sighted during both March and August, but it is unknown whether a particular female produces more than one litter during the same year.

The estrous cycle lasts about 54 days, with the female showing signs of estrus for approximately three days. When in estrus, female jaguarundis will urinate in several locations around their territory, and give out faint cries. A female then rolls on her back as a sign of receptiveness. Mating is accompanied by loud screaming and during copulation the male bitesthe female on the neck.

Dens are typically constructed in hollow logs or dense thickets. Litters ranging in size from one to four kittens are born after a gestation period of 63 to 75 days. Approximately 21 days after birth, the mother starts bringing the kittens small amounts of food, and after 28 days the young are found venturing away from the den. Within 42 days, the kittens are able to eat by themselves. It is unknown how long jaguarundi kittens remain in their mother’s home range. However, in other small cat species, young may remain in the territory for up to one year, with females remaining longer than males.

Breeding interval: Jaguarundis breed during one, possibly two times per year.

Breeding season: Populations of jaguarundis in Mexico have a breeding season from November to December; elsewhere breeding occurs year-round.

Range number of offspring: 1 to 4.

Average number of offspring: 1.9.

Range gestation period: 63 to 75 days.

Range weaning age: 21 to 30 days.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 2 to 3 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; viviparous

Like most Felids, young jaguarundis are born deaf and blind. However, they are well furred and may be spotted at birth. It is the mother that provides the kittens with food and protection. Until the young can eat solid food, she nurses them. She brings them bits of food when they are between 21 and 30 days old. She also provides protection and will move the den when disturbed. Little is known regarding whether the male provides any protection or care to the kittens, but in most other felids the male plays no role in raising young.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; altricial ; female parental care ; pre-fertilization (Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)

  • 2003. Cats: Reproductive biology. Pp. 372-373 in M Hutchins, D Kleiman, V Geist, M McDade, eds. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Vol. 14, 2nd Edition. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group.
  • 2003. Jaguarundi: Herpailurus yaguaroundi . Pp. 390 in M Hutchins, D Kleiman, V Geist, M McDade, eds. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Vol. 14, 2nd Edition. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group.
  • Denis, A. 1964. Cats of the World. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
  • Guggisberg, C. 1975. Wild Cats of the World. New York: Taplinger Pub. Co..
  • Hulley, J. 1976. Maintenance and breeding of captive jaguarundis at Chester Zoo and Toronto. International Zoo Yearbook, 16: 120-122.
  • Leopold, A. 1959. Wildlife of Mexico; The Game Birds and Mammals. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
  • McCarthy, T. 1992. Notes concerning the jaguarundi cat (Herpailurus yagouaroundi) in the Caribbean lowlands of Belize and Guatemala. Mammalia, 56(2): 302-306.
  • Nowak, R. 1999. Felis yagouaroundi. Pp. 800 in Walker's Mammals of the World, Vol. 1, 6th Edition. Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press.
  • de Oliveira, T. 1998. Herpailurus yagouaroundi. Mammalian Species, 578: 1-6. Accessed March 28, 2004 at http://www.science.smith.edu/departments/Biology/VHAYSSEN/msi/pdf/i0076-3519-578-01-0001.pdf.
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Mates in November-December. Gestation lasts 9-10 weeks (also reported as 6 months). May be one or two litters of 1-4 (average 2) per year. In Mexico, young are produced around March and August; reproduction may be aseasonal in tropical latitudes.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Puma yagouaroundi

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 9
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

The pelts of jaguarundis are of poor quality, but jaguarundis are caught accidentally in traps meant for other animals. This does not affect the population numbers significantly. The major threats to jaguarundis are loss of suitable habitat and prey.

The IUCN Redlist classifies H. yaguarondi under least concern, meaning that they are widespread in their habitat. CITES lists only the populations of Central and North America in Appendix 1, classifying them as threatened with extinction. South American populations are included in Appendix II of CITES. Four of the eight subspecies of jaguarundis are included on the endangered list by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and are protected in this country. These subspecies are the four that inhabit Central and North America (H. yaguarondi cacomitli, H. yaguarondi fossata, H. yaguarondi panamensis, and H. yaguarondi tolteca).

To help protect jaguarundis, more information needs to be gathered on their natural history. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service has outlined a plan to gain more information on the populations inhabiting Texas and Arizona. They hope to determine whether inbreeding is affecting the populations, what diseases might be present in the populations, as well as the effects that pesticide runoff is having. The Fish and Wildlife Service has also started to implement programs to protect the habitat of jaguarundis in the United States, particularly the corridors connecting small, isolated areas of habitat.

US Federal List: endangered

CITES: appendix i; appendix ii

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Caso, A., Lopez-Gonzalez, C., Payan, E., Eizirik, E., de Oliveira, T., Leite-Pitman, R., Kelly, M. & Valderrama, C.

Reviewer/s
Nowell, K., Breitenmoser-Wursten, C., Breitenmoser, U. (Cat Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
The jaguarundi is much less abundant than previously perceived and needs to be monitored in the future as the threats persists and will likely fragment and reduce the overall population. It is more commonly associated with savanna formations than dense rainforest (where it usually ranks low within the felid guild – Oliveira et al. in submission), therefore habitat conversion to industrial agriculture of the Brazilian savannas of the Cerrado biome should posse a serious threat for the species. With density estimates considerably low and the negative impact of ocelots (Oliveira et al. in press) it is likely that no conservation units, with the probable exception of the mega-reserves of the Amazon basin could sustain long-tern viable populations of jaguarundis. This species could already be Near Threatened (A3c), however, there is not currently enough information to make this judgment. Therefore it should be periodically reviewed (IUCN Cats Red List Workshop 2007).

History
  • 2002
    Least Concern
  • 1990
    Indeterminate
    (IUCN 1990)
  • 1988
    Indeterminate
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
  • 1986
    Indeterminate
    (IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
  • 1982
    Indeterminate
    (Thornback and Jenkins 1982)
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National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N1 - Critically Imperiled

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure

Reasons: Wide distribution in North, Central, and South America, but evidently population density is low and habitat is being lost.

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Status

Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1) and listed on Appendix I and Appendix II of CITES (5).
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Population

Population
Contrary to earlier characterizations of this species as relatively common and abundant (Nowell and Jackson 1996), research indicates that the jaguarundi is an uncommon, low density species. Densities are very low everywhere it has been sampled, and jaguarundis are more commonly found at 0.01-0.05/km² or lower (Oliveira et al. in submission), but reaching up to 0.2/km² in a few and restricted high density areas (A. Caso pers. comm.). The jaguarundi’s density/numbers are negatively impacted by those of the larger sized ocelot (the “ocelot effect”) (Oliveira et al. in press). Considered Near Threatened in Argentina (Diaz and Ojeda 2000) and Threatened in Mexico (SEMARNAP 2001).

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Global Short Term Trend: Decline of 10-30%

Comments: Has declined in the northern part of the range. USFWS (1990) categorized the status of subspecies CACOMITLI and TOLTECA as "unknown."

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Threats

Major Threats
The species is generally not exploited for commercial trade, although jaguarundis are doubtless caught in traps set for commercially valuable species and may be subject to low intensity hunting pressure around settled areas (Nowell and Jackson 1996). Its main threats are however, habitat loss and fragmentation, especially for large scale agriculture and pasture. Jaguarundis are commonly killed for killing poultry (IUCN Cats Red List workshop, 2007).
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Degree of Threat: A : Very threatened throughout its range communities directly exploited or their composition and structure irreversibly threatened by man-made forces, including exotic species

Comments: Human persecution and loss of habitat (e.g., through clearing for agriculture or livestock pasture) probably have been the major factors in the decline (Matthews and Moseley 1990).

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The largely diurnal behaviour and open habitats of the jaguarundi mean that it is often the most commonly seen cat within its range, leading to the mistaken belief that it is relatively abundant. Now believed to be much less common that previously thought, the species is undergoing a decline, largely as a result of habitat loss and fragmentation as savannas are converted for large-scale agriculture and pasture (1). Although more flexible in its habitat requirements than many other small cat species, and not commercially exploited for its pelt, the jaguarundi is a notorious predator on domestic poultry, and killing of jaguarundis to protect poultry is considered to have a major impact on its population (1) (6) (7) (8). It may also be caught in traps set for other, commercially valuable species (1) (8), and is thought to suffer from competition with the larger ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) (1).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Included on CITES Appendix II. Populations of Central and North America are CITES Appendix I. The species is protected across most of its range, with hunting prohibited in Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, French Guiana, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Uruguay, United States and Venezuela, and hunting regulations in place in Peru (Nowell and Jackson 1996). Further studies are required on the species ecology, demographics, natural history, and threats. Populations in protected areas are expected to be very low, likely because of the impact of the higher ocelot densities (Oliveira pers. comm.). This species is often perceived as not threatened due to its visibility (it is diurnal) and use of open habitats.
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Biological Research Needs: Are the nominal subspecies valid? Investigate feasibility of reintroduction into unoccupied habitat.

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Needs: Protect/maintain large tracts of habitat. Prevent/reduce human persecution through public education, regulations, and law enforcement.

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Conservation

The IUCN recommend that the status of the jaguarundi is regularly reviewed, as it may be more threatened than currently believed (1). The species is protected across most of its range, with hunting illegal in many countries (1) (8), and international trade is monitored and controlled under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) (5). North and Central American populations are particularly at risk, with the jaguarundi now very rare or possibly even extinct in the USA, and also in Uruguay (8). The tighter CITES listing of the northern populations, on Appendix I, reflects the more threatened status (5). Jaguarundi numbers are expected to be relatively low even in protected areas, and further study into the species' ecology, biology and conservation status has been recommended in order to help protect this unusual cat (1).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Jaguarundis often prey upon poultry and are considered a pest to villagers in rural Belize for this reason.

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By preying upon rabbits, mice, and rats, jaguarundis help to control the populations of several agricultural pests.

Positive Impacts: controls pest population

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Economic Uses

Comments: Pelt is of poor quality and of little value (Leopold 1959). Not hunted for the fur trade (Emmons and Feer 1990).

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Wikipedia

Jaguarundi

The jaguarundi or eyra cat (Puma yagouaroundi), is a small, wild cat native to Central and South America. In 2002, the IUCN classified the jaguarundi as Least Concern, although they considered it likely that no conservation units beyond the megareserves of the Amazon Basin could sustain long-term viable populations. Its presence in Uruguay is uncertain.[2]

In some Spanish-speaking countries, the jaguarundi is also called gato colorado, gato moro, león brenero, onza, tigrillo, and leoncillo.[2] The Brazilian Portuguese pronunciation of its common English and Portuguese name is IPA: [ʒɐɡwɐɾũˈdʒi]. It is also called gato-mourisco, eirá, gato-preto, and maracajá-preto in Portuguese. Jaguarundi comes from Old Tupi yawaum'di.[4]

Characteristics[edit]

Red color phase

The jaguarundi has short legs, an elongated body, and a long tail. The ears are short and rounded. The coat is without spots, uniform in color, with, at most, a few faint markings on the face and underside. The coat can be either blackish to brownish-grey (grey phase) or foxy red to chestnut (red phase); individuals of both phases can be born in the same litter. It has a total length of 53 to 77 cm (21 to 30 in) with a 31- to 60-cm-long tail, and weighs 3.5 to 9.1 kg (7.7 to 20.1 lb).[5][6][7]

The two color phases were once thought to represent two distinct species: the grey one called jaguarundi /ˌʒæɡwəˈrʌndi/ ZHAG-wə-RUN-dee,[8] and the red one called eyra.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The jaguarundi is found from southern Texas and coastal Mexico in the north, through Central and South America east of the Andes, and as far south as northern Argentina. Its habitat is lowland brush areas close to a source of running water, and may include any habitat from dry thorn forest to wet grassland. While commonly found in the lowlands, they have been reported at elevations as high as 3,200 m (10,500 ft).[5] Jaguarundis also occasionally inhabit dense tropical areas.

Jaguarundis have also been sighted in the US state of Florida since the early 20th century. Here, the species is thought to have been introduced, but it is not known when the introduction occurred. Their presence in Florida is said to have been the work of a writer who at some point imported the animals from their native habitat and released them near his hometown of Chiefland and in other locations across the state. No live or dead specimens have been found, but many sightings considered credible by biologists have been reported. The earliest of these occurred in 1907, and was followed by various additional sightings throughout the Florida Peninsula from the 1930s through the 1950s. The first official report was released in 1942. Significantly fewer reliable sightings were reported after that, and by 1977, W. T. Neill concluded the population had declined; however, sightings have continued. Sightings of jaguarundis in the coastal area of Alabama also have been made. This may be evidence of the Florida population migrating northward.[9]

The jaguarundi has also been sighted around the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana.[10]

Distribution of subspecies[edit]

Ecology and behavior[edit]

Gray color phase

Jaguarundis are primarily diurnal, being active during the day rather than evenings or night. They are comfortable in trees, but prefer to hunt on the ground. They will eat almost any small animal they can catch, typically catching a mixture of rodents, small reptiles, and ground-feeding birds. They have also been observed to kill larger prey, such as rabbits, and opossums; relatively unusual prey include fish and even marmosets. Like many other cats, they also include a small amount of vegetation and arthropods in their diets.[5]

Although they seem to be somewhat more gregarious than many other cats, willing to tolerate the close presence of other members of their species, in the wild, they are generally encountered alone, suggesting a solitary lifestyle. Their home range is widely variable, depending on the local environment; individuals have been reported as ranging over territories from 6.8 to 100 km2 (2.6 to 38.6 sq mi). Like other cats, they scent mark their territory by scratching the ground or nearby branches, head-rubbing, urination, and leaving their faeces uncovered.[5] They are shy and reclusive, and evidently very cautious of traps.[9]

Jaguarundis make an unusually wide range of vocalisations, including purrs, whistles, yaps, chattering sounds, and even a bird-like chirp.[5]

Reproduction[edit]

The timing of the breeding season among jaguarundis is unclear; they breed all year round. Oestrus lasts three to five days, marked by the female regularly rolling onto her back and spraying urine. After a gestation period of 70 to 75 days, the female gives birth to a litter of one to four kittens in a den constructed in a dense thicket, hollow tree, or similar cover.[5]

The kittens are born with spots on their undersides, which disappear as they age. The young are capable of taking solid food at around six weeks, although they begin to play with their mother's food as early as three weeks. Jaguarundis become sexually mature at about two years of age, and have lived for up to 10 years in captivity.[5]

Threats[edit]

Jaguarundis are not particularly sought after for their fur, but are suffering decline due to loss of habitat. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has expressed concern that the presence of the jaguarundi in South Texas may be imperiled due to loss of the cat's native habitat.[11]

Conservation[edit]

Jaguarundi in the Děčín zoo, Czech Republic

The North and Central American populations of P. jagouaroundi are listed in CITES Appendix I. All the other populations are listed in CITES Appendix II. P. y. cacomitli, P. y. fossata, P. y. panamensis, and P. y. tolteca are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.[1]

Taxonomy and evolution[edit]

The jaguarundi is closely related to the much larger and heavier cougar, having a similar genetic structure and chromosome count. While both species are in the genus Puma it is sometimes classified under the genus Herpailurus, and until recently both cats were classified under the genus Felis.

According to a 2006 genomic study of Felidae, an ancestor of today's Leopardus, Lynx, Puma, Prionailurus, and Felis lineages migrated across the Bering land bridge into the Americas about 8.0 to 8.5 million years ago. The lineages subsequently diverged in that order.[12]

Studies have indicated the cougar and jaguarundi are next most closely related to the modern cheetah of Africa and western Asia,[12][13] but the relationship is unresolved. Ancestors of the cheetah have been suggested to have diverged from the Puma lineage in the Americas and migrated back to Asia and Africa,[12][13] while other research suggests the cheetah diverged in the Old World itself.[14] The outline of small feline migration to the Americas is thus unclear (see also American cheetah).

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 545. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. ^ a b c Caso, A., Lopez-Gonzalez, C., Payan, E., Eizirik, E., de Oliveira, T., Leite-Pitman, R., Kelly, M., Valderrama, C. (2008). "Puma yagouaroundi". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. 
  3. ^ a b "Puma yagouaroundi". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved May 17, 2010. 
  4. ^ Ferreira, A.B.H. (1986) Novo Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa. Segunda edição. Rio de Janeiro: Nova Fronteira. P. 980
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Sunquist, M.; Sunquist, F. (2002). Wild Cats of the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 113–119. ISBN 0-226-77999-8. 
  6. ^ a b Brown, D. E., and Gonzalez, C. A. (1999). "Jaguarundi (Felis yagouaroundi tolteca)". Journal of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science (32). pp. 155–157. 
  7. ^ Boitani, L. (1984). Simon & Schuster's Guide to Mammals. Simon & Schuster/Touchstone Books. ISBN 978-0-671-42805-1
  8. ^ Merriam-Webster Dictionary jaguarundi
  9. ^ a b Simberloff, D.; D. C. Schmitz; T. C. Brown (1997). Strangers in Paradise: Impact and Management of Nonindigenous Species in Florida. Washington, D.C.: Island Press. pp. 172–173. ISBN 1-55963-430-8. Retrieved August 11, 2010. 
  10. ^ Centre Spatial Guyanais - Un florilège de faune sauvage au CSG
  11. ^ Endangered Species. Tpwd.state.tx.us (2003-04-15). Retrieved on 2011-09-15.
  12. ^ a b c Johnson, W.E.; Eizirik, E.; Pecon-Slattery, J.; Murphy, W.J.; Antunes, A.; Teeling, E.; O'Brien, S.J. (6 January 2006). "The Late Miocene radiation of modern Felidae: A genetic assessment". Science 311 (5757): 73–77. doi:10.1126/science.1122277. PMID 16400146. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  13. ^ a b Culver, M.; Johnson, W. E.; Pecon-Slattery, J.; O'Brien, S. J. (2000). "Genomic Ancestry of the American Puma" (PDF). Journal of Heredity (Oxford University Press) 91 (3): 186–97. doi:10.1093/jhered/91.3.186. PMID 10833043. 
  14. ^ Barnett, R.; I. Barnes; M. J. Phillips; L. D. Martin; C. R. Harington; J. A. Leonard; A. Cooper (2005). "Evolution of the extinct Sabretooths and the American cheetah-like cat". Current Biology (Cell Press) 15 (15): R589–R590. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2005.07.052. PMID 16085477. 
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: This species was formerly included in the genus Felis. It was placed in the genus Herpailurus by Wozencraft (in Wilson and Reeder 1993) and Baker et al. (2003). Subsequently, Wozencraft (in Wilson and Reeder 2005) cited sources indicating that this species and Puma concolor are monophyletic, supporting inclusion of this species in the genus Puma.

Wozencraft (in Wilson and Reeder 1993) stated that the correct spelling of the specific name is yaguarondi; he regarded the name yagouaroundi (E. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1803) as never officially published. However, Wozencraft (in Wilson and Reeder 2005) listed this species as Puma yagouaroundi (E. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1803), evidently deciding that the name yagouaroundi was indeed published.

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