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Jaguar (Panthera onca) Fact Sheet: Summary

Jaguar (Panthera onca) Fact Sheet

Jaguar close up

Jaguar (Panthera onca)

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. All rights reserved.


Taxonomy Physical Characteristics

Describer (Date): Linnaeus 1758

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Felidae

Subfamily: Pantherinae

Genus: Panthera

Species: Panthera onca*

*Status of subspecies is unclear.

Body Weight: 57-113 kg (126-249 lb)

Body Length: 112-185 cm (44-73 in)

Tail Length: 45-75 cm (18-30 in)

Pelage: Spotted pattern in rosettes, with smaller spots inside.

Distribution & Status Behavior & Ecology

Range: Mexico through Central America, South America; a few individuals live in U.S. southwest.

Habitat: Dense lowland and montane tropical forests; often near water, though highly adaptable to drier habitats.

IUCN Status: Near Threatened (2016 assessment)

CITES Appendix: Appendix I

Population in Wild: About 173,000 individuals. Most numerous in Brazil and Peru.

Locomotion: 50 cm (19.7 in) strides; run top sped (100 km/hr or 62 mph) short distance.

Activity Cycle: Primarily hunt at night; varies locally.

Social Groups: Solitary except when mating or female caring for young.

Diet: Some 85 species; including capybara, marsh deer, giant anteater, red brocket deer; turtles, fish, birds, and alligator.

Predators: Humans

Reproduction & Development Species Highlights

Sexual Maturity: Males: 3- 4 years; females: 2-3 years

Gestation: c.100 days

Litter Size: 2 cubs most common; up to 4

Birth weight: c. 800 g (1.8 lb)

Age at Weaning: 5 to 6 months

Typical Life Expectancy:
Wild populations: mean life span of about 13–14 years
Managed care: median life expectancy of about 18 years


Feature Facts 

  • Largest and most robust cat of Americas; circumference of massive head usually greater than height at shoulder.
  • Eight traditional subspecies categorized according to skull characteristics but no modern genetic justification
  • Current range is 63% of historic range in Southwestern US, Mexico, Central and South America
  • Prefer dense lowland with strong tie to regions with water
  • Declining population trend due to deforestation, loss of prey and hunting
  • Conservation areas were established in Central America and US and hunting is restricted or banned in many countries
  • At SD Zoo, Nindiri gave birth to a male cub, Valerio, in March of 2015.


About This Fact Sheet

© 2008-2018 San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. Taxonomy and population estimates updated Oct 2018.

How to cite: Jaguar (Panthera onca) Fact Sheet. © 2008-2018. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. jaguar.
(note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Jan 15)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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