The name jaguarundi was coined by German scientists in 1803, and is a German word for a weasel cat.
Jaguarundis are small-sized cats with eight subspecies. Their scientific name is Puma yagouaroundi, having Felis yagouaroundi, Herpailurus yagouaroundi, Herpailurus yaguarondi as synonyms.
Jaguarundis are native to Central and South America, and are hence termed as New World cats. Even so, they do not entirely resemble New World cats. With a long and slender body, Jaguarundis look similar to weasels.
Owing to their diminishing population, a detailed scientific research on this feline is yet to be carried out. The following Buzzle article sheds some light on some of the unique features this species possesses.
» The historical range of this cat spans southern Texas, southeastern Arizona, southern Mexico, and Central and South America (till central Argentina and Uruguay). However, there has been no evidence so far that jaguarundis once dwelt in Arizona. Owing to human encroachment, the range more or less remains the same, with less number of distribution of the species.
» Jaguarundis have a varied habitat, inhabiting rainforests, lowland brush areas, savannah grasslands, and dense thorn scrubs. They usually prefer areas with dense tropical forests and running water. They can be found at elevations ranging from 2,000 m to 3,200 m.
» Unlike other New World cats, jaguarundis lack the presence of spots, and, in fact, show more coat coloration than any other cat. The species has two main color morphs-the black (or gray) morph and the red morph. These two color phases or morphs were initially thought to be two different species, and hence, the red phase was named Felis eyra, while the black or gray phase was named jaguarundi.
» The jaguarundi has a long, slender body with a flat face, short legs and ears, and a long tail. The length of this animal ranges between 21 to 30 inches, and it weighs between 7.7 to 20 lb. It has a remarkably wide range of vocalizations, which include chatter, scream, yap, and purr.
» The jaguarundi is more diurnal than other cats, and hence, actively hunts during the day. The diet consists of small-sized prey-mainly rodents, reptiles, birds, and sometimes fish and amphibians.
» Reaching sexual maturity at the age of 2 or 3, jaguarundis usually breed year-round. Extensive research is yet to be carried out on their breeding behavior.
»The female gives birth to 1 to 4 kittens after a gestation period of 70 to 75 days. The birth is given in a den that is constructed in a dense cover-usually on a tree or fallen logs.
»The kittens show presence of spots at birth, which disappear with age. They begin to feed on solid food only after 6 weeks.
Although the jaguarundi was listed as 'Least Concern' by the IUCN, it is believed to be endangered as of today, and possibly extinct in the United States.