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The Jaguar is commonly found in rain forests, savannas, and swamps, but at the northern end of its territory it may enter grassy country and even deserts. The Jaguar still has a home in the Amazon basin, but has been nearly wiped out of the drier regions.
Jaguars are solitary animals who live and hunt alone. The male's home range is between 19 and 53 square miles and often overlaps with the smaller home ranges of multiple females. A male aggressively protects his home range and resident females from other males. Jaguars don’t have a specific breeding season and will mate any time of year. Also, jaguars can see six times better than humans at night or during darker conditions due to a layer of tissue in the back of the eye that reflects light.
In captivity Jaguars can live for up to 20 years, but in the wild the average is only 11-12 years.
Jaguars are carnivores known to eat deer, peccary, crocodiles, snakes, monkeys, deer, sloths, tapirs, turtles, eggs, frogs, fish and anything else they can catch. Jaguars will hunt almost any kind of animal prey with its favorite being the peccary (type of wild pig) and the capybara. If wild food is scarce, these large cats will also hunt domestic livestock.
Jaguars were once presumed to be nocturnal, but they are active during the daytime for 50-60% of a 24 hour day. Their jaws are stronger than any other species of cat. With these strong jaws, jaguars will crunch down on bones and eat them. They also don't like to share their food. Jaguars will only eat their prey after dragging into the trees, even if the trees are quite a distance away.
There are about 15,000 jaguars left.
The name Jaguar comes from the ancient Indian name “yaguar” which meant “the killer which overcomes its prey in a single bound.
Unlike most big cats, the jaguar loves the water — it often swims, bathes, plays and even hunts for fish in streams and pools.
Why are they endangered?
Deforestation and fragmentation of forest habitats are a threat to the jaguar. People compete with jaguars for prey, and jaguars are frequently shot on sight, despite laws against killing them. Jaguars are also known to kill cattle, and then are killed by ranchers as a result.