Our Black & Spotted Jaguars
The jaguar, a compact and well-muscled animal, is the largest cat in the New World and the largest carnivorous mammal in Central and South America. Weights are normally in the range of 56–96 kg (124–211 lb). Females are typically 10–20% smaller than males. The length, from the nose to the base of the tail, of the cats varies from 1.2 to 1.95 m (3.9 to 6.4 ft). Their tails are the shortest of any big cat, at 45 to 75 cm (18 to 30 in) in length. The jaguar stands 63 to 76 cm (25 to 30 in) tall at the shoulders.
A melanistic jaguar is a color morph which occurs at about 6% frequency in populations.
Color morphism occurs in the species. A near-black melanistic form occurs regularly. Jaguars with melanism appear entirely black, although their spots are still visible on close examination.
The black morph is less common than the spotted form but, at about six percent of the population, it is several orders of magnitude above the rate of mutation. Hence, it is being supported by selection. Some evidence indicates the melanism allele is dominant.
Melanistic jaguars are informally known as black panthers, but (as with all forms of polymorphism) they do not form a separate species.
Extremely rare albino individuals, sometimes called white panthers, also occur among jaguars, as with the other big cats. As usual with albinos in the wild, selection keeps the frequency close to the rate of mutation.
Its present range extends from Mexico, through Central America and into South America, including much of Amazonian Brazil. The countries included in this range are Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica (particularly on the Osa Peninsula), Ecuador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, the United States and Venezuela. The jaguar is now extinct in El Salvador and Uruguay. The habitat of the cat includes the rain forests of South and Central America, open, seasonally flooded wetlands, and dry grassland terrain. Of these habitats, the jaguar much prefers dense forest; the cat has lost range most rapidly in regions of drier habitat, such as the Argentinian pampas, the arid grasslands of Mexico, and the southwestern United States. The cat will range across tropical, subtropical, and dry deciduous forests. The jaguar is strongly associated with water, and it often prefers to live by rivers, swamps, and in dense rainforest with thick cover for stalking prey.
The jaguar is an obligate carnivore, feeding only on meat. It is an opportunistic hunter and its diet encompasses at least 87 species. The jaguar can take virtually any terrestrial or riparian vertebrate found in Central or South America, with a preference for large prey. The jaguar is more of a dietary generalist that its Old World cousins: the American tropics have a high diversity of small animals but relatively low populations and diversity of the large ungulates which this genus favors. They regularly take adult caimans, deer, capybaras, tapirs, peccaries, dogs, foxes, and sometimes even anacondas. However, the cat will eat any small species that can be caught, including frogs, mice, birds, fish, sloths, monkeys, and turtles.
WHERE DO THEY LIVE?