Wikijunior:Big Cats/Jaguarundi

A jaguarundi

Jaguarundis are one of the oddest members of the cat family, rarely seen, and often thought to be otters when they were spotted. Their scientific name, Herpailurus, means "snake-like cat".

Where do jaguarundis live?


Jaguarundis live in Central and South America, and in the southern tip of Texas. They live in areas of lowland brush close to a running water source and will occasionally inhabit dense tropical areas.

What do jaguarundis look like?


This medium-sized cat has an average length of 65 cm (30 inches) with 45 cm (20 inches) of tail. It has short legs and an appearance somewhat like an otter; the ears are short and rounded. The fur is a uniform chestnut brown, but can range from grey to dark brown. Their coats have no markings except for spots at birth.

What do jaguarundis eat, and how do they catch their prey?


Jaguarundis eat fish, small mammals, reptiles and birds. They feel comfortable in trees but prefer to hunt on the ground. They can also eat rabbits, armadillos, small rodents, lizards, and bird eggs. They can enter the water or scale a tree to reach their prey.

Fun facts


See how much you know about the jaguarundi:

  • They have a name like the jaguars, but are the closest living relative of the puma.
  • The Jaguarundi can reach speeds of over 60 mph
  • They are diurnal, unlike most cats, they are active during the day.
  • They have retractable claws
  • They have rough bumps on their tongue; Papillae, that help them scrape meat from the bone.
  • They sleep in enclosed spaces, such as hollow logs or caves.

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