Guest Videos: Small Cats of the American Tropics: Jaguarundis

Despite what your senses might tell you when outdoors on a muggy July day anywhere from Brownsville to Mobile, Texas and the northern Gulf states are not in the tropics.

But a lot of people here believe they’ve seen a jaguarundi.

Why not? Like most cats, jaguarundis are flexible about their habitat to some extent and could live in these places.

Perhaps they did prowl this neck of the woods at one time, but it seems that jaguarundis now have gone locally extinct in the US.

He mentions camera traps, but it’s also notable that there have been no images despite just about everyone carrying a digital camera these days. Keep yours handy — you never know when one of these cats might wander north out of the tropics!

We recently watched a jaguarundi tayra (oops — sorry!) try to assassinate a monkey in Costa Rica, but as the next video shows, these little cats generally take small prey.

That’s right: the puma lineage!

DNA analysis has proven that, but there are morphological clues, too.

Per the Cat Specialist Group, “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.”

To see what they mean by “resembles the puma,” check out the jaguarundi at the start and end of this collection of Mexican wildlife caught on trail cams:

More information:

  • ISEC page
  • A study (jargon alert) of how small cats share resources in Brazil. Jaguarundis had the most specialized diet.
  • “Is it a bob cat? Ocelot? Margay? Jaguarundi? Something else entirely?” — Spelunking boffins

Some lagniappe — Tito.

Featured image: slowmotiongli/Shutterstock

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