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Top 15 Fun Jaguar Facts You Never Knew

Find out if you can SPOT the difference between a leopard and a jaguar with these epic fun facts about jaguars!

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Beano Facts Team
Last Updated:  August 10th 2022

Jaguars are the only member of the big cat family to live in the Americas - and are really unique and amazing creatures. With a skull-crushing bite and clever camouflage, these magnificent moggies have evolved to be the perfect predators! Read on to see how many of these interesting facts about jaguars you knew!

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1. "Jaguar" is a mysterious word

Even the jaguar's name is cool! One theory is that the word jaguar may come from yaguar - which means "what kills with one leap" in the Tupi language of Brazil and Paraguay. The word was then adopted by Europeans who colonised South America, so we will probably never know exactly how the jaguar got it's name.

2. Jaguars have the strongest bite of any cat (for it's size)

Jaguars have seriously strong bites! Their bite is a bit less powerful than a tiger's - but don't forget that jaguars are a LOT smaller. So pound for pound, jaguars have the strongest bite of any big cat!

3. They hunt caiman with ease

The jaguar's bite is so strong it can chew through the tough, leathery skin of the caiman! There aren't many animals brave enough to take on this cousin of the crocodile, but believe it or not the caiman is a regular food source for hungry jaguars!

4. They love swimming!

Jaguars love the water! They're excellent swimmers and have evolved to thrive in wet, jungly areas. Bit odd, for a cat!

5. They're not leopards!

Well, obviously! Jaguars are jaguars and leopards are leopards. Leopards live in Africa and Asia, Jaguars live in the Americas. Jaguars are stockier than leopards, and have different patterns. But this doesn't stop people getting them mixed up!

6. Jaguar spots have spots inside

One way to tell whether you'r really looking at a jaguar (because ok, we'll admit it - they do look a tiny bit lke leopards) is this detail on their spots. Jaguar spots are spottier, and have lots of little spots inside the bigger ones!

7. Male jaguars have BIG territories

Male jaguars have an average range of about 100 kilometres - which is about double that of a female jaguar! They're very territorial animals, and spend a lot of time scent marking and chasing off intruders!

8. They hunt at night as well

Jaguars are happy to hunt for prey during the day or night - and have excellent eyesight and camouflage to give them a big advantage, whatever time of day it is!

9. They have a special roar

Jaguars have a special bit of extra-stretchy ligament behind their nose and mouth that allows them to open their mouth much wider than a regular cat. And it's this that lets the jaguar roar, and not purr!

10. They eat ANYTHING!

Jaguars are absolute killing machines. They regularly hunt mammals, birds, reptiles... and anything else they can find! Some of their kills are so big they can't eat them all in one go, and it takes them days to finish it!

11. Some jaguars are black

About 10% of jaguars have black fur! And whilst they look totally black, at certain angles you an actually see darker blac spots hidden among the black fur. It's not just jaguars that can have black fur sometimes too... as you're about to find out!

12. Some jaguars are panthers

So panthers aren't actually a species all on their own. A panther is just any member of the big cat family that happens to have black fur! So a black jaguar, tiger or leopard can be called a panther! So, jaguars are never leopards - but might be panthers. Got it?

13. They're pretty chunky

Panthers are definitely smaller than lions and tigers, but they're still the biggest cat in the Americas - and are covered in muscle! Including tail, jaguars can get up to 2.5 metres long! Not too shabby!

14. There used to be jaguars in Texas!

Before we wrecked their natural habitats, it was quite normal to see jaguars as far north as Texas and the US-Mexico border! Unfortunately it's a different story now, and most jaguars live a lot further south in the forests of South America.

15. Jaguars need our help!

Jaguar numbers around the world are shrinking. One reason is because us humans are destroying their natural habitat - the jungles of the Americas. So the best way to stop this happening is by saving the rainforests - and unfortunately we can't do this just by remembering the recycling. What we need to do is put pressure on big businesses and governments to change their policies!