The jaguarundi is a relatively small cat whose weight averages about sixteen to twenty pounds. They have short legs, long bodies, and an especially long tail. Their small head, short ears, and long body have given the jaguarundi the nickname the "otter cat." Unlike the jaguar and ocelot, the jaguarundi has a solid coat color ranging from dark brown to a reddish chestnut color.
The jaguarundi occupies a variety of different habitats. It can be found in tropical rainforests, savannah grasslands, and dense thorn scrub. It is usually associated with thick undercover and running water.
Historically, the jaguarundi ranged from southern Texas, southeastern Arizona, southern Mexico, and Central and South America. The range of the jaguarundi has remained much the same, but with a smaller distribution of the cats. Much of the jaguarundis' range is threatened by human encroachment.
Jaguarundis reach sexual maturity at two to three years and may breed twice a year. The gestation period is about seventy days, after which a litter of two to three kittens are born. The kittens are spotted at birth, but the spots soon disappear.
The jaguarundi has been found to be mainly a diurnal (daytime) hunter, although occasionally noted to hunt at dusk. It feeds on ground dwelling birds, rodents, and reptiles.
On June 24, 1976, the jaguarundi was included as a federally endangered animal under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The jaguarundi does not have a specific recovery plan, although it would benefit from the same habitat preservation as for the ocelot recovery.1
Jaguarundis in Pima County:
The jaguarundi is a very secretive animal and does not give itself away easily. While it is a diurnal hunter, it shies away from open spaces, preferring dense cover. Sightings of this animal have been documented, though no photograph or specimen of a jaguarundi has ever been recorded in Arizona.2
1. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Listed Cats of Texas and Arizona Recovery Plan (With Emphasis on the Ocelot). Albuquerque, New Mexico. 1990.
2. Brown,D.E. & Carlos A. Lopez Gonzales. 1999. Journal of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science. Vol. 32 pp 155-157
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