Jaguar Facts for Kids

by eslevy17

Looking for fun and interesting facts about jaguars for kids? Learn all about this mysterious jungle cat and what makes it special.

The jaguar is one of the most elusive big cats, legendary throughout Central and South America, and famous for being one of the most mysterious and intriguing jungle hunters anywhere in the world.

Like all the big cats, jaguars are beloved by adults and kids, and one of the highlights of any zoo trip or jungle adventure. So learn all about jaguars for kids, and adults too!

Fun Facts About Jaguars

Interesting facts about jaguars for kids

Jaguars are famous all over the world, for their beautiful spotted fur coat, and their mysterious nature. They're rarely seen in the wild, but are one of the most successful hunters of any species.

Jaguars are one of the four "big cats," meaning they can roar, along with lions, tigers, and leopards. They're the third biggest of the big cats, weighing around 100-200 lbs (about 50-100 kg), and their bodies can be over 6 feet long (2m).

Even though they're smaller than some of the other big cats, they have the strongest bite of any feline, strong enough to crack through skulls or turtle shells. Their strength, along with their great hunting and hiding skills, make them highly successful predators, sitting at the top of the food chain and capable of attacking prey several times their size.

Where do Jaguars Live?

Jaguar habitat facts and range

Jaguars are found throughout Central and South America, and occasionally in the United States too. They can be found in a variety of environments, from jungles to grasslands, but it much prefers to live in dense forests, where it can hide more easily to stalk its prey, like rainforest or other thick forested areas. They're also excellent climbers.

Unlike most cats, jaguars are good swimmers, and can often be found living near rivers or lakes. They're even strong enough to swim while carrying their prey.

Jaguar, Milwaukee Zoo
Jaguar, Milwaukee Zoo

Because of their size, jaguars need to live somewhere with lots of other animals, so they can have enough to eat regularly, so they have large territory and can move pretty far while hunting.

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What do Jaguars Eat?

Jaguar diet and hunting habits

Jaguars are carnivores, and they eat any animal they can find, preferring to hunt larger animals, like deer, tapirs, or capybaras, although they also eat small animals like frogs, birds, fish, or mice. They prefer to hunt, usually around dawn or dusk, by sneaking up to their prey and pouncing, hiding among the dense leaves of the forest, where its spotted coat can help it stay hidden by blending into the environment.

Jaguars are incredibly strong, with the strongest jaws of any feline, and the second strongest jaws of any mammal, just behind the hyena.

Yawning Jaguar
Yawning Jaguar

Because they have such a strong bite, they often hunt differently from other cats. While most cats will try to bite the neck of their prey, a jaguar can just bite down on the head and crack the skull!

Life of a Jaguar

How a jaguar lives, from kitten to adult

A jaguar cub is born blind, and stays that way for two whole weeks. Even after that, the cubs stay inside the den for the first six months, when they're old enough to start hunting with their mother.

Once they're about one or two years old, jaguar cubs will leave home, and find their own territory. Jaguars live alone, except for when a male and female need to find each other to breed.

Jaguar picking up a cub
Jaguar picking up a cub
John Harrison

Once that happens, a jaguar mother will have a few cubs, raising them all by herself, until the cubs are ready to find their own way.

A jaguar can live for about 12 to 15 years, and even longer, up to 23 years, in captivity, making it one of the longest-lived cats.

Adorable Baby Jaguar Video

Jaguar cub is like a huge spotted kitten

Why are Jaguars Endangered?

Jaguar habitat loss and other threats

Jaguars are considered a "near threatened" species, meaning they're not as critically endangered as other big cats, but are still threatened by habitat loss, hunting, and other challenges.

Because of human expansion, jaguars have lost a lot of their territory, with new cities and roads pushing them into smaller and smaller areas. Not only does this reduce their territory, but if jaguar populations are separated from one another, they have trouble finding other jaguars to breed with, reducing the genetic diversity and threatening the species even further.

Jaguar at the Belize Zoo
Jaguar at the Belize Zoo
Bjørn Christian Tørrissen

Farmers often consider jaguars a threat, especially if the jaguars start hunting farm animals. Poachers still hunt them as well, even though it's illegal in nearly every country.

Studying jaguars is quite difficult, since jaguars are so good at hiding. It's hard to know how many exist in the wild, especially since so many jungles in South America are so far away from civilization.

Groups like the Wildlife Conservation Society work to protect wildlife all over the world, and they're always happy to get some extra help.

Jaguars in Literature

Jaguar legends and mythology

Jaguars were once known only in the Americas, where they were an important cultural symbol for many civilizations, such as the Aztecs and Maya, who used them in ancient artwork. Aztecs even had a group of soldiers called the Jaguar Warriors, and several Maya rulers used the name of the cat for their own titles.

After discovering the Americas, other civilizations eventually fell in love with Jaguars too, and its name and spotted fur coat is now found all over the world, from cars, football teams, and more. People love jaguars, because of their mysterious nature, their incredible hunting skills, and sometimes just for being beautiful.

Awesome Jaguar Pictures

Pictures of jaguars from around the world
Black jaguar and cub
Black jaguar and cub
Wildlife rescue center in Argentina
Wildlife rescue center in Argentina
Lea Maimone
On the prowl
On the prowl
Gary M. Stoltz
At the Milwaukee Zoo
At the Milwaukee Zoo

More Adorable Jaguar Videos

Who doesn't love jaguar kittens?!

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Updated: 05/10/2012, eslevy17
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annissa bryan on 08/19/2014

oh I love them espeacialy wit kids I love it lets start the jaguar movement and big cats

Jacob on 04/28/2014


Jacob on 04/28/2014

Can you tell me about jaguar movement.

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