Genus: Panthera (This is the group containing the four big cats who can roar- the tiger, the lion, the jaguar, and the leopard)
Species: Panthera onca
There are nine subspecies of jaguar:
Panthera onca onca – Amazon Rainforest
Panthera onca arizonensis – Mexico
Panthera onca centralis – Central America
Panthera onca goldmani – Mexico, Belize
Panthera onca hemandesii – Mexico
Panthera onca palustris – Southern Brazil
Panthera onca paraguensis – Paraguay
Panthera onca peruvianus – Peru, Ecuador
Panthera onca veracrucis – Texas
*Note. The Jaguar looks a lot like a leopard but they are pretty different. The jaguar only lives in the Americas. It’s heavier and with a blockier head than the leopard, (which lives in the Old World (Africa and Asia). They have different spot formations too (the leopard has no dots inside her rosettes- the jaguar does). The rosettes are “raised” and can be felt if one were to run their hand across the fur:
The jaguar is solitary and hunts silently in the deep rainforest of S. America and likes water. It can also be found in open terrain. There is a known and possibly breeding population in Arizona, southeast of Tucson. The jaguar can weigh up to 250 pounds (115 kg) and lives for 12-15 years in the wild. Up to approx 20 years in captivity.
The jaguar is largely a solitary, opportunistic* stalk-and-ambush predator at the top of the food chain (an apex predator). It is a keystone species which means it “plays an important role in stabilizing ecosystems and regulating the populations of the animals it hunts.” The jaguar has an unusually powerful bite, the strongest of all the other cats. Its bites packs a whopping 700 PSI (pounds per square inch of pressure). It can bite right through the shells of armored animals as well as through actual skulls. It often bites directly through the skull between the ears thus piercing the brain and making death instantaneous.
*Note. In biology, an opportunist organism is generally defined as “a species that can live and thrive in variable environmental conditions, and sustain itself from a number of different food sources, or can rapidly take advantage of favorable conditions when they arise, because the species is behaviorally sufficiently flexible. Such species can for example postpone reproduction, or stay dormant, until conditions make growth and reproduction possible.” And they ain’t picky eaters.
**Note. There are two cats referred to as “black panthers”: the jaguar and the leopard. When a jaguar or a leopard are melanistic (meaning their fur is black) they are sometimes called black panthers. Interestingly, the melanistic jaguar and leopard still have spots, you can sometimes see them in the bright sunshine.