Jaguarundi

Jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi). Spanish Name: Gato Moro

About The Jaguarundi

Habitat
This cat tolerates many different habitats, including gallery forest, tropical evergreen forest, and dry deciduous forest.

Range
The Jaguarundi lives between the Rio Grande Valley in Texas to northern Argentina.

National Parks
Corcovado National Park, Santa Rosa National Park, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, San José; may also be found in La Selva and San Vito.

Physical Description
Unlike most other cats in Central America, the Jaguarundi is very diurnal, and has a circular pupil probably for this reason. Its face looks somewhat ominous compared to other cats because of its unusual eyes, body proportions, and coat color. It is a medium-sized cat with a slender build and comparatively long neck and head. Unlike other small cats in Central America, the Jaguarondi is not spotted, and is instead a solid black, gray, or reddish color. This feline is also unusual for its range because it is more likely to be aggressive or mean when encountered, while other cats tend to evade confrontation.

Biology and Natural History
Two or more individuals are often seen traveling together, presumably a mother with her offspring. She will have two or more young at a time in a den in a hollow log, treefall, or thicket. Although the jaguarundi sleeps and hunts on the ground, it capable of climbing trees. This cat is active in the early morning and late afternoon, and often treads dense underbrush near water, valley forests, boundaries of gallery forests, or secondary forest by villages. Again an irregularity, this cat does not necessarily avoid settled areas, and is known to take chickens. Despite this and its daylight hunting, this is still a stealthy cat, uncommonly seen, and mostly glimpsed by field workers because of its hours of activity.

Diet
The Jaguarundi is particularly skilled at hunting small rodents, rabbits, and ground-nesting birds; it may also take lizards and chickens.

Height/Weight
An adult generally has a head and body length of 0.76 to 0.82 m, and a tail 0.32 to 0.506 m long. They weigh about 9 kg.

Taxonomy
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae

Sources
Eisenberg, John. Mammals of the Neotropics, Vol. 1. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1989.

Emmons, Louise H. Neotropical Rainforest Mammals: A Field Guide, 2nd Ed. University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1990.

Wilson, D. E. in Janzen, Daniel H. Costa Rican Natural History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.

-Amy Strieter, Wildlife Writer