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Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Genus: Puma
Species: P. yagouaroundi
Binomial name
Puma yagouaroundi
(Geoffroy, 1803)

The jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi) is a medium-sized wild cat that ranges from southern Texas in the United States south to South America. It has a total length of 88–128 cm (35–50 inches) and a weight of up to 9.1 kg (20 lbs).[3] It has short legs and an appearance somewhat like an otter; the ears are short and rounded. For this reason, these animals are sometimes referred to as "otter cats." The coat is unspotted, uniform in colour, and varying from blackish to brownish grey (grey phase) or from foxy red to chestnut (red phase).


Etymology and naming

The two colour phases were once thought to represent two distinct species; the grey one called jaguarundi, and the red one called eyra. However, these are the same species and both colour phases may be found in the same litter. Its coat has no markings except for spots at birth. In some Spanish speaking countries, the jaguarundi is also called leoncillo, which means little lion. Other Spanish common names for the jaguarundi include: "gato colorado", "gato moro", "león brenero", "onza", and "tigrillo".[4]

Taxonomy and evolution

This cat is closely related to the much larger and heavier cougar as evident by its similar genetic structure and chromosome count; both species are in the genus Puma although it is sometimes classified under a separate 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 approximately 8 to 8.5 million years ago. The lineages subsequently diverged in that order.[5]

Studies have indicated that the cougar and jaguarundi are next most closely related to the modern cheetah of Africa and western Asia,[5][6] but the relationship is unresolved. It has been suggested that ancestors of the cheetah diverged from the Puma lineage in the Americas and migrated back to Asia and Africa,[5][6] while other research suggests the cheetah diverged in the Old World itself.[7] The outline of small feline migration to the Americas is thus unclear (see also American cheetah).

A Jaguarundi in the zoo in Děčín, Czech Republic


Its habitat is lowland brush areas close to a source of running water. It occasionally inhabits dense tropical areas as well. It is crepuscular or nocturnal, depending on location. This cat is comfortable in trees, but prefers to hunt on the ground. It preys upon fish, small mammals, reptiles and birds.


The litter consists of one to four kittens. They are raised socially after a 70-day gestation. The kittens become mature at approximately 2 years of age.


This cat is not particularly sought after for its fur, but it is 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.[8]

The jaguarundi has been sighted around the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana.[9]


An Eyra, from the Mivart's 1881 book The cat: an introduction to the study of backboned animals, especially mammals



  1. ^ Wozencraft, W. C. (16 November 2005). Wilson, D. E., and Reeder, D. M. (eds). ed. Mammal Species of the World (3rd edition ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 545. ISBN 0-801-88221-4. 
  2. ^ Sanderson, J., Sunarto, S., Wilting, A., Driscoll, C., Lorica, R., Ross, J., Hearn, A., Mujkherjee, S., Ahmed Khan, J., Habib, B. & Grassman, L. (2008). Prionailurus bengalensis. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 22 March 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern
  3. ^ "Jaguarundi (Felis yagouaroundi tolteca)" (PDF). United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Retrieved 2009-01-01. 
  4. ^ Caso, A.; Lopez-Gonzalez, C.; Payan, E.; Eizirik, E.; de Oliveira, T.; Leite-Pitman, R.; Kelly, M.; and Valderrama, C. (2008). Puma yagouaroundi. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 1 January 2009. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
  5. ^ a b c Johnson, W.E.; Eizirik, E.; Pecon-Slattery, J.; Murphy, W.J.; Antunes, A.; Teeling, E.; and 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. 
  6. ^ a b Culver, M.; Johnson, W.E., Pecon-Slattery, J., O'Brein, 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. 
  7. ^ Barnett, Ross; Ian Barnes; Matthew J. Phillips; Larry D. Martin; C. Richard Harington; Jennifer A. Leonard; and Alan Cooper (9 August 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. Retrieved 2007-06-04. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Centre Spatial Guyanais - Un florilège de faune sauvage au CSG
  10. ^ "Jaguarundi (Felis yagouaroundi tolteca)" (PDF). United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Retrieved 2009-01-01. 

External links



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