The Jaguarundi is a small wild feline located in the southern part of the American continent, including southern Texas, Mexico, Central and South America. There is also rumored to be a small isolated population of jaguarondi in central Florida.
The Jaguarundi is commonly called the "otter cat" due to its otter like appearance. The Jaguarundi has an elongated body with relatively short legs and round ears. The jaguarundi also has a long tale much like a panthers.
The Jaguarundi ranges in colors from black to a light brown color. Adult Jaguarundi's have a solid color cote while younger jaguarundi's will have a small speckled or patterned coat.
The Jaguarundi is a carnivore and eats small animals such as fish and birds.
The current range of jaguarundis is from southern Texas and Arizona to northern Argentina. Sightings in Arizona and Texas are often not well documented, thus the status of jaguarundis in these states is not well known. Sightings have also been reported in Florida. These sightings are most likely a result of a human introduced population.
Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Introduced , Native ); neotropical (Native )
occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Southern Arizona and Texas south through Mexico to Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, French Guiana, Guyana, Surinam, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina (Wozencraft, in Wilson and Reeder 1993). There is one sight record from Arizona (1938, northwestern edge of the Huachuca Mountains, Santa Cruz County), but there are no records from Sonora or Chihuahua; Hoffmeister (1986) regarded the inclusion of this species in the fauna of Arizona as "most questionable." Texas population probably consists of only a few individuals; recent sightings in Brazoria County south of Houston, Texas, may have been of released animals (Matthews and Moseley 1990). A small population may have become established recently in Florida through introduction by human agency (Nowak 1991); this population is well established according to Kitchener (1991). To elevations of 2200 m (Emmons and Feer 1990).
Superficially, jaguarundis resemble members of the family Mustelidae. This caused early German zoologists to refer to the species as the “weasel cat.” Compared to other small neotropical felids, jaguarundis have a more elongated body, smaller, more rounded ears, and shorter limbs relative to body size. They are unspotted. The species that most resembles jaguarundis is Prionailurus planiceps, commonly referred to as flat-headed cats. However, jaguarundis can be easily distinguished from this other species, and are slightly longer and heavier.
Jaguarundis are slightly larger than domesticated house cats. The head and body length may range from 505 to 770 mm. The tail is long, ranging from 330 to 600 mm. Shoulder height is approximately 350 mm, and the weight ranges from 4.5 to 9.0 kg. Males are slightly larger and heavier than females of the same population.
Two color morphs are present in H. yaguarondi. One is dark grayish-black, and the other is reddish in color. This caused the species to be originally classified as two separate species: “eyra” for the blackish coat and “jaguarundi” for the reddish coat. Local villagers sometimes refer to jaguarundis as “eyras.” Despite the differences in coat color, it has been determined that the two color morphs do mate, and litters are observed containing both. The coat is generally uniform in color, but may be slightly paler on the ventral side. Populations inhabiting tropical rainforests are generally darker and populations inhabiting dryer habitats are often paler than other populations. It has been hypothesized that the coats of jaguarundis get darker during the winter. Kittens are sometimes spotted at birth but lose their markings before adulthood.
Range mass: 4.5 to 9 kg.
Range length: 505 to 770 mm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry ; polymorphic
Sexual Dimorphism: male larger
Length: 137 cm
Weight: 8100 grams
Belizean Pine Forests Habitat
This species is found in the Belizean pine forests along the Central America's northwestern Caribbean Sea coast; the ecoregion exhibits relatively well preserved fragments of vegetation as well as a considerable abundance of fauna. This ecoregion comprises a geographically small portion of the total land area of the ecoregions of Belize. There is relatively low endemism in the Belizean pine forests, and only a moderate species richness here; for example, only 447 vertebrate taxa have been recorded in the ecoregion. The ecoregion represents one of the few examples of lowland and premontane pine forests in the Neotropics, where the dominant tree species is Honduran Pine (Pinus caribaea var. hondurensis), which requires periodic low intensity burns for its regeneration. The vegetation is adapted to the xeric, acidic and nutrient-poor conditions that occur primarily in the dry season.
In the forest of the Maya Mountains, vegetation reaches higher altitudes, the topography is more rugged and crossed by various rivers, and nighttime temperatures are lower. The pine trees are larger and numerous, and the pine forest intersects other formations of interest such as rainforest, Cohune Palm (corozal), cactus associations, and others. About eleven percent of Belize is covered by natural pine vegetation. Only two percent represents totally closed forests; three percent semi-closed forests; and the remaining six percent pine savannas, that occupy coastal areas and contain isolated pine trees or stands of pine trees separated by extensive pastures. In addition to human activity, edaphic factors are a determining matter in this distribution, since the forests on the northern plain and southern coastal zone are on sandy soils or sandy-clay soils and usually have less drainage than the more fertile soils in the center of the country.
At elevations of 650 to 700 metres, the forests transition to premontane in terms of vegetation. At these higher levels, representative tree species are Egg-cone Pine (Pinus oocarpa), which crosses with Honduras Pine (P. hondurensis), where distributions overlap, although belonging to subsections of different genera; British Honduras Yellowwood (Podocarpus guatemalensis) and Quercus spp.; moreover, and in even more moist areas there is a predominance of Jelecote Pine (Pinus patula), together with the palm Euterpe precatoria var. longivaginata and the arboreal ferns Cyathea myosuroides and Hemitelia multiflora.
A number of reptilian species are found in the Belizean pine forests, including: Guatemala Neckband Snake (Scaphiodontophis annulatus); Indigo Snake (Drymarchon corais); On the coasts, interior lakes and rivers of Belize and by extension in this ecoregion there are two species of threatened crocodiles: American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) and Morelet's Crocodile (C. moreletii), while observation of the Central American River Turtle (Dermatemys mawii CR) is not uncommon in this ecoregion.
Also to be noted is the use of this habitat by the Mexican Black Howler (Alouatta pigra), which can be considered the most endangered howler monkey of the genus, and the Central American spider monkey (Atteles geoffroyi). Both species experienced a decline due to the epidemic yellow fever that swept the country in the 1950s. The five feline species that exist in Belize: Jaguar (Panthera onca), Puma (F. concolor), Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis), Margay (Leopardus wiedii) and Jaguarundí (Herpailurus yagouaroundi) are in appendix I of CITES, as well as the Central American tapir (Tapirus bairdii) can been seen with relative frequency. Belize has the highest density of felines in Central America. The tapir is abundant around rivers. The White-lipped Peccary (Tayassu pecari) is also present in the ecoregion.
Although most of the amphibians and reptiles are found in humid premontane and lowland forests, the only endemic frog in this ecoregion, Maya Mountains Frog (Lithobates juliani), is restricted to the Mountain Pine Ridge in the Maya Mountains. Salamanders in the ecoregion are represented by the Alta Verapaz Salamander (Bolitoglossa dofleini NT), whose males are arboreal, while females live under logs. Anuran taxa found in the ecoregion include: Rio Grande Frog (Lithobates berlandieri); Sabinal Frog (Leptodactylus melanonotus); Northern Sheep Frog (Hypopachus variolosus); Stauffer's Long-nosed Treefrog (Scinax staufferi); and Tungara Treefrog (Engystomops pustulosus).
Present in the ecoregion are a number of avian species, including the endangered Yellow-headed Amazon Parrot (Amazona oratrix EN), although this bird is adversely affected by ongoing habitat destruction. Of particular interest is the presence in this ecoregion of Central America's highest procreative colony of Jabiru (Jabiru mycteria), a large migratory bird, particularly in the Crooked Tree sanctuary, on the country's northern plains.
Herpailurus yaguarondi demonstrates habitat flexibility. These cats have been recorded in grasslands/savannas, shrub lands, tropical rainforest, tropical deciduous forest, dense chaparral, thickets, and scrubland. They are often sighted near water and may inhabit swamps and areas near streams, rivers and lakes. Jaguarundis are most often found in secondary vegetation but are also found in primary habitats, and have been sighted in forests near villages. They live up to an elevation of at least 3200 m.
Range elevation: sea level to 3200 m.
Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; chaparral ; forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest
Other Habitat Features: agricultural ; riparian
Habitat and Ecology
This small-sized felid (5 kg) body shape suggests the species to be mostly terrestrial. However, it moves about easily in trees (Oliveira 1994). Its litter size is 1.9 kittens (1–4). Because it is mostly diurnal, it tends to be the most easily seen Neotropical felid, which lead to the false assumption it was common. Diet includes mostly small mammals, birds and reptiles, with a mean prey mass of 380 g. However, larger sized prey (>1 kg) are not unusual (Oliveira and Cassaro 2005, Oliveira et al. in press). Home range size varies greatly, ranging up to 100 km², larger than for any other Neotropical small cat (Konecny 1989). The species is not the dominant small cat species in most areas, even in most areas of open habitats. Additionally, jaguarundi is also negatively impacted by ocelots (the “ocelot effect”) (Oliveira et al. in press). It has several colour morphs - brownish-black, grey and reddish yellow - which can even be found in the same litter (Oliveira 1998).
Comments: Thick brushlands (patchy or continuous) in U.S. Throughout rest of range, prefers tropical forests and swamps, lowland forests and thickets. Habitat near water is favored. May be more common in deciduous or secondary forest than in rainforest; can live in secondary vegetation near villages (Emmons and Feer 1990). Spends most of time on ground, though climbs well. Sleeping and birthing occur in a den in a hollow log, treefall, or dense thicket.
Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.
Jaguarundis are carnivores and hunt a variety of small mammals, reptiles, birds, frogs, and fish. Besides animal matter, jaguarundis stomach contents often contain a small amount of plant material and arthropods. Birds are often the prey of choice and the jaguarundi diet usually includes junglefowl.
Mammals that are preyed upon: eastern cottontails, short-tailed cane mice, Brazilian guinea pigs, and spiny rats.
Reptiles: South American ground lizards, rainbow whiptails, and green iguanas.
Animal Foods: birds; mammals; amphibians; reptiles; fish; insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods
Plant Foods: leaves
Primary Diet: carnivore (Eats terrestrial vertebrates)
Comments: Diet consists mainly of birds (sometimes including domestic poultry), reptiles, and small mammals (e.g., rats, mice, rabbits); occasionally may eat fishes and fruit.
Jaguarundis are predators of many small mammal species as well as reptiles, birds, frogs, and fish. Jaguarundis also compete for resources with other carnivores including margays, ocelots, coyotes, foxes, bobcats, and mountain lions. However, jaguarundis avoid direct competition with margays and ocelots through their diurnal and terrestrial behavior.
Several known parasites use jaguarundis as hosts. These include several species of tapeworms, hookworms, and acanthocephalans.
The predation pressures that jaguarundis face as well as anti-predator adaptations are unknown.
Known prey organisms
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
Number of Occurrences
Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.
Estimated Number of Occurrences: 21 - 80
2500 - 10,000 individuals
Comments: No rangewide population estimates are available. Apparently uncommon or rare everywhere (Emmons and Feer 1990).
Reported to live in pairs in Paraguay but to be solitary in Mexico (Nowak 1991). Travels widely in a huge home range (Emmons and Feer 1990). Population density in Costa Rica was estimated at 25-330/sq km (see Kitchener 1991). In Belize, a female used a home range that varied between 13-20 square kilometers, while two males had home ranges of 100 and 88 square kilometers (Konecny 1989).
Life History and Behavior
Felids characteristically have well developed senses of sight, hearing, and smell. Jaguarundis have a larger vocal repertoire than other members of the family occupying the same range. Thirteen distinct calls have been reported in captivity including contact calls, greeting and attention calls, and warning signals. Mothers often call their kittens with a short purr and the kittens answer with repeated short peeps. When warning others to stay away, a jaguarundi will give a loud hiss and/or spit. Faint cries are given by a female to signal that she is in estrus. She also urinates to leave chemical signals that she is in heat. Other scent marking habits include urine spraying, head rubbing, and claw scraping. Behaviors such as flehmen, hind feet scraping, and neck rubbing have also been observed in captive jaguarundis.
Tactile communication occurs between a mother and her offspring, as well as between mates (males bite the necks of females during copulation). Visual signals, although not specifically reported in jaguarundis, are common in cats, and are likey to occur in this mainly diurnal species.
Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Other Communication Modes: pheromones ; scent marks
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Comments: Diurnal and nocturnal (Emmons and Feer 1990). Hunts in the morning and evening; much less nocturnal than most cats (Nowak 1991).
It is not known what the lifespan of H. yaguarondi is in the wild. In captivity they have lived up to 15 years of age. In captivity the causes of death have included respiratory diseases, disorders of the urogenital system, cardiovascular disease, and diseases of the digestive system. There have also been reports of cancer, choking, and poisoning in captivity.
Status: captivity: 15 (high) years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Little is known about the mating system of jaguarundis. Recently, pairs have been sighted occupying a territory, and more than one pair may often occupy the same territory, but the reproductive significance of these associations is not known at this time.
Members of the family Felidae are generally polygamous.
Female jaguarundis reach sexual maturity at about two to three years of age. In most of its tropical range, H. yaguarondi has no definitive reproductive season, and breeding may occur year-round. In Mexico, the breeding season is reported to occur during November and December. Litters are often sighted during both March and August, but it is unknown whether a particular female produces more than one litter during the same year.
The estrous cycle lasts about 54 days, with the female showing signs of estrus for approximately three days. When in estrus, female jaguarundis will urinate in several locations around their territory, and give out faint cries. A female then rolls on her back as a sign of receptiveness. Mating is accompanied by loud screaming and during copulation the male bitesthe female on the neck.
Dens are typically constructed in hollow logs or dense thickets. Litters ranging in size from one to four kittens are born after a gestation period of 63 to 75 days. Approximately 21 days after birth, the mother starts bringing the kittens small amounts of food, and after 28 days the young are found venturing away from the den. Within 42 days, the kittens are able to eat by themselves. It is unknown how long jaguarundi kittens remain in their mother’s home range. However, in other small cat species, young may remain in the territory for up to one year, with females remaining longer than males.
Breeding interval: Jaguarundis breed during one, possibly two times per year.
Breeding season: Populations of jaguarundis in Mexico have a breeding season from November to December; elsewhere breeding occurs year-round.
Range number of offspring: 1 to 4.
Average number of offspring: 1.9.
Range gestation period: 63 to 75 days.
Range weaning age: 21 to 30 days.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 2 to 3 years.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; viviparous
Like most Felids, young jaguarundis are born deaf and blind. However, they are well furred and may be spotted at birth. It is the mother that provides the kittens with food and protection. Until the young can eat solid food, she nurses them. She brings them bits of food when they are between 21 and 30 days old. She also provides protection and will move the den when disturbed. Little is known regarding whether the male provides any protection or care to the kittens, but in most other felids the male plays no role in raising young.
Parental Investment: no parental involvement; altricial ; female parental care ; pre-fertilization (Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)
Mates in November-December. Gestation lasts 9-10 weeks (also reported as 6 months). May be one or two litters of 1-4 (average 2) per year. In Mexico, young are produced around March and August; reproduction may be aseasonal in tropical latitudes.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Puma yagouaroundi
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 9
Species With Barcodes: 1
The pelts of jaguarundis are of poor quality, but jaguarundis are caught accidentally in traps meant for other animals. This does not affect the population numbers significantly. The major threats to jaguarundis are loss of suitable habitat and prey.
The IUCN Redlist classifies H. yaguarondi under least concern, meaning that they are widespread in their habitat. CITES lists only the populations of Central and North America in Appendix 1, classifying them as threatened with extinction. South American populations are included in Appendix II of CITES. Four of the eight subspecies of jaguarundis are included on the endangered list by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and are protected in this country. These subspecies are the four that inhabit Central and North America (H. yaguarondi cacomitli, H. yaguarondi fossata, H. yaguarondi panamensis, and H. yaguarondi tolteca).
To help protect jaguarundis, more information needs to be gathered on their natural history. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service has outlined a plan to gain more information on the populations inhabiting Texas and Arizona. They hope to determine whether inbreeding is affecting the populations, what diseases might be present in the populations, as well as the effects that pesticide runoff is having. The Fish and Wildlife Service has also started to implement programs to protect the habitat of jaguarundis in the United States, particularly the corridors connecting small, isolated areas of habitat.
US Federal List: endangered
CITES: appendix i; appendix ii
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 2002Least Concern
- 1990Indeterminate(IUCN 1990)
- 1988Indeterminate(IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1988)
- 1986Indeterminate(IUCN Conservation Monitoring Centre 1986)
- 1982Indeterminate(Thornback and Jenkins 1982)
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N1 - Critically Imperiled
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: Wide distribution in North, Central, and South America, but evidently population density is low and habitat is being lost.
Global Short Term Trend: Decline of 10-30%
Comments: Has declined in the northern part of the range. USFWS (1990) categorized the status of subspecies CACOMITLI and TOLTECA as "unknown."
Degree of Threat: A : Very threatened throughout its range communities directly exploited or their composition and structure irreversibly threatened by man-made forces, including exotic species
Comments: Human persecution and loss of habitat (e.g., through clearing for agriculture or livestock pasture) probably have been the major factors in the decline (Matthews and Moseley 1990).
Biological Research Needs: Are the nominal subspecies valid? Investigate feasibility of reintroduction into unoccupied habitat.
Needs: Protect/maintain large tracts of habitat. Prevent/reduce human persecution through public education, regulations, and law enforcement.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Jaguarundis often prey upon poultry and are considered a pest to villagers in rural Belize for this reason.
By preying upon rabbits, mice, and rats, jaguarundis help to control the populations of several agricultural pests.
Positive Impacts: controls pest population
Comments: Pelt is of poor quality and of little value (Leopold 1959). Not hunted for the fur trade (Emmons and Feer 1990).
The jaguarundi or eyra cat (Puma yagouaroundi), is a small, wild cat native to Central and South America. In 2002, the IUCN classified the jaguarundi as Least Concern, although they considered it likely that no conservation units beyond the megareserves of the Amazon Basin could sustain long-term viable populations. Its presence in Uruguay is uncertain.
In some Spanish-speaking countries, the jaguarundi is also called gato colorado, gato moro, león brenero, onza, tigrillo, and leoncillo. The Brazilian Portuguese pronunciation of its common English and Portuguese name is IPA: [ʒɐɡwɐɾũˈdʒi]. It is also called gato-mourisco, eirá, gato-preto, and maracajá-preto in Portuguese. Jaguarundi comes from Old Tupi yawaum'di.
The jaguarundi has short legs, an elongated body, and a long tail. The ears are short and rounded. The coat is without spots, uniform in color, with, at most, a few faint markings on the face and underside. The coat can be either blackish to brownish-grey (grey phase) or foxy red to chestnut (red phase); individuals of both phases can be born in the same litter. It has a total length of 53 to 77 cm (21 to 30 in) with a 31- to 60-cm-long tail, and weighs 3.5 to 9.1 kg (7.7 to 20.1 lb).
Distribution and habitat
The jaguarundi is found from southern Texas and coastal Mexico in the north, through Central and South America east of the Andes, and as far south as northern Argentina. Its habitat is lowland brush areas close to a source of running water, and may include any habitat from dry thorn forest to wet grassland. While commonly found in the lowlands, they have been reported at elevations as high as 3,200 m (10,500 ft). Jaguarundis also occasionally inhabit dense tropical areas.
Jaguarundis have also been sighted in the US state of Florida since the early 20th century. Here, the species is thought to have been introduced, but it is not known when the introduction occurred. Their presence in Florida is said to have been the work of a writer who at some point imported the animals from their native habitat and released them near his hometown of Chiefland and in other locations across the state. No live or dead specimens have been found, but many sightings considered credible by biologists have been reported. The earliest of these occurred in 1907, and was followed by various additional sightings throughout the Florida Peninsula from the 1930s through the 1950s. The first official report was released in 1942. Significantly fewer reliable sightings were reported after that, and by 1977, W. T. Neill concluded the population had declined; however, sightings have continued. Sightings of jaguarundis in the coastal area of Alabama also have been made. This may be evidence of the Florida population migrating northward.
Distribution of subspecies
- P. y. yagouaroundi (Geoffroy, 1803) – Geoffroy's jaguarundi (Guyana and the Amazon Rainforest)
- P. y. ameghinoi (Holmberg, 1898) – (western Argentina, far eastern Chile)
- P. y. cacomitli (Berlandier, 1859) – Gulf Coast jaguarundi (southern Texas and eastern Mexico)
- P. y. eyra (G. Fischer, 1814) – eyra cat (Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina)
- P. y. fossata (Mearns, 1901) – Guatemalan jaguarundi (southern Mexico to Honduras)
- P. y. melantho (Thomas, 1914) – (Peru and Brazil)
- P. y. panamensis (Allen, 1904) – Panamanian jaguarundi (Nicaragua to Ecuador)
- P. y. tolteca (Thomas, 1898) – Sinaloan jauguarundi (western Mexico; unconfirmed sightings have been reported in Arizona and Sonora)
Ecology and behavior
Jaguarundis are primarily diurnal, being active during the day rather than evenings or night. They are comfortable in trees, but prefer to hunt on the ground. They will eat almost any small animal they can catch, typically catching a mixture of rodents, small reptiles, and ground-feeding birds. They have also been observed to kill larger prey, such as rabbits, and opossums; relatively unusual prey include fish and even marmosets. Like many other cats, they also include a small amount of vegetation and arthropods in their diets.
Although they seem to be somewhat more gregarious than many other cats, willing to tolerate the close presence of other members of their species, in the wild, they are generally encountered alone, suggesting a solitary lifestyle. Their home range is widely variable, depending on the local environment; individuals have been reported as ranging over territories from 6.8 to 100 km2 (2.6 to 38.6 sq mi). Like other cats, they scent mark their territory by scratching the ground or nearby branches, head-rubbing, urination, and leaving their faeces uncovered. They are shy and reclusive, and evidently very cautious of traps.
Jaguarundis make an unusually wide range of vocalisations, including purrs, whistles, yaps, chattering sounds, and even a bird-like chirp.
The timing of the breeding season among jaguarundis is unclear; they breed all year round. Oestrus lasts three to five days, marked by the female regularly rolling onto her back and spraying urine. After a gestation period of 70 to 75 days, the female gives birth to a litter of one to four kittens in a den constructed in a dense thicket, hollow tree, or similar cover.
The kittens are born with spots on their undersides, which disappear as they age. The young are capable of taking solid food at around six weeks, although they begin to play with their mother's food as early as three weeks. Jaguarundis become sexually mature at about two years of age, and have lived for up to 10 years in captivity.
Jaguarundis are not particularly sought after for their fur, but are suffering decline due to loss of habitat. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has expressed concern that the presence of the jaguarundi in South Texas may be imperiled due to loss of the cat's native habitat.
The North and Central American populations of P. jagouaroundi are listed in CITES Appendix I. All the other populations are listed in CITES Appendix II. P. y. cacomitli, P. y. fossata, P. y. panamensis, and P. y. tolteca are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
Taxonomy and evolution
The jaguarundi is closely related to the much larger and heavier cougar, having a similar genetic structure and chromosome count. While both species are in the genus Puma it is sometimes classified under the genus Herpailurus, and until recently both cats were classified under the genus Felis.
According to a 2006 genomic study of Felidae, an ancestor of today's Leopardus, Lynx, Puma, Prionailurus, and Felis lineages migrated across the Bering land bridge into the Americas about 8.0 to 8.5 million years ago. The lineages subsequently diverged in that order.
Studies have indicated the cougar and jaguarundi are next most closely related to the modern cheetah of Africa and western Asia, but the relationship is unresolved. Ancestors of the cheetah have been suggested to have diverged from the Puma lineage in the Americas and migrated back to Asia and Africa, while other research suggests the cheetah diverged in the Old World itself. The outline of small feline migration to the Americas is thus unclear (see also American cheetah).
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- Species portrait Jaguarundi; IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group
- Stock photographs with a variety of examples from both coat phases
- Jaguarundi page and photos at bigcatrescue.org
- Smithsonian Institution - North American Mammals: Puma yaguaroundi
- Smithsonian Wild: Puma yagouaroundi
- "Jaguarondi". Encyclopedia Americana. 1920.
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: This species was formerly included in the genus Felis. It was placed in the genus Herpailurus by Wozencraft (in Wilson and Reeder 1993) and Baker et al. (2003). Subsequently, Wozencraft (in Wilson and Reeder 2005) cited sources indicating that this species and Puma concolor are monophyletic, supporting inclusion of this species in the genus Puma.
Wozencraft (in Wilson and Reeder 1993) stated that the correct spelling of the specific name is yaguarondi; he regarded the name yagouaroundi (E. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1803) as never officially published. However, Wozencraft (in Wilson and Reeder 2005) listed this species as Puma yagouaroundi (E. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1803), evidently deciding that the name yagouaroundi was indeed published.