The jaguarundi Herpailurus Yaguarondi is a medium-sized wild cat. It has short legs and an appearance somewhat like an otter; the ears are short and rounded. The coat is unspotted, uniform in colour, and varying from blackish to brownish grey grey phase or from foxy red to chestnut red phase. As this cat is closely related to the much larger and heavier cougar, evident by its similar genetic structure and chromosome count count, the jaguarundi is also said to be in the genus Puma although it is more often classified under a separate genus, Herpailurus. Until recently both cats were classified under the genus Felis. Its habitat is lowland brush areas close to a source of running water.
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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.
Herpailurus yaguarondi demonstrates habitat flexibility. 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 m. Superficially, jaguarundis resemble members of the family Mustelidae.
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 to mm. The tail is long, ranging from to mm. Shoulder height is approximately mm, and the weight ranges from 4.
Males are slightly larger and heavier than females of the same population. Two color morphs are present in H. One is dark grayish-black, and the other is reddish in color. 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. 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. 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. However, in other small cat species, young may remain in the territory for up to one year, with females remaining longer than males. 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. It is not known what the lifespan of H.
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. Jaguarundis are known as very secretive animals. It was once believed that they were solitary except during the breeding season. Recent reports of pairs suggest that they may be more social than once thought.
Pairs are often sighted in Paraguay, but individuals in Mexico are believed to be solitary. They are mostly diurnal, with their peak in activity occurring around 11 in the morning. Some activity does occur at night, and they are often reported as being nocturnal and diurnal. Jaguarundis are terrestrial but are also good climbers and swimmers. The home ranges of jaguarundis vary greatly between populations.
The home ranges of males have been reported to range between 88 and square kilometers in one population, while a male of another population had a home range of The home ranges of two radio-tagged females of different populations were reported to be 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. 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. Hulley, ; Vaughan, et al. 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. 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. The predation pressures that jaguarundis face as well as anti-predator adaptations are unknown.
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. By preying upon rabbits, mice, and rats, jaguarundis help to control the populations of several agricultural pests. Jaguarundis often prey upon poultry and are considered a pest to villagers in rural Belize for this reason. 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. 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. Fish and Wildlife Service, 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. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends.
Synapomorphy of the Bilateria. Found in coastal areas between 30 and 40 degrees latitude, in areas with a Mediterranean climate.
The jaguarundi is regarded as a monotypic species. Like the cheetah, the jaguarundi cannot retract the claws of its hind paws completely, and its behaviour resembles the puma more than other medium-sized cats in the same habitat. The jaguarundi has a small, thin and elongated head, small close-set eyes, wide-set very rounded ears, a low-slung slender body, short legs and a very long tail, which gives it a unique appearance; it is sometimes in fact called "otter cat". The coat of the jaguarundi is short and uniform with three colour phases, brownish-black, grey, and yellowish-red. The head and the belly often times present a lighter colouration than the body. In fact, in the semi-arid Brazilian Caatinga scrub it is the most frequent colour morph.
Jaguarondi (Herpailurus Yagouaroundi)
The jaguarundi is a medium-sized cat of slender build. Its coloration is uniform, similar to that of its closest relative, the much larger cougar , but differing significantly from other neotropical cats such as the small spotted cats in the genus Leopardus. It has an elongated body with relatively short legs, a small, narrow head, small, round ears, a short snout and a long tail, resembling otters and weasels in these respects. It has two color morphs — gray and red. Secretive and alert, the jaguarundi is typically solitary or forms pairs in the wild, though captive individuals are more gregarious.