Jaguars are giant cats found in the north, south, and some regions of Central America. If you look at their size, jaguars are in third place after lions and tigers. Jaguars have unique dark spots in their body, which help you differentiate them from other cats’.
Animals mostly choose their diet depending upon the habitat they live in. They feed on meat, plants, and other animals to survive in the wild. Jaguars live in the wild and depend upon different food sources to survive.
What Does a Jaguar Eat?
The scientific name of Jaguars is Panthera Onca. They are considered carnivores and feed on other animals. They usually like to eat fish, mammals, reptiles, etc. Jaguars like to hunt both on land and water, and they have very diverse diets.
Being a top predator, it is reported that jaguars have eaten more than 85 different bird species, including many reptiles and primates. Jaguars first stalk and then attack their prey; they are very fast in catching prey.
Jaguars prefer to eat mammals that weigh between 50 to 90 kilograms. They can catch and eat almost every animal if they find an opportunity to see it. They mostly like to eat anteaters, marsh deer, and capybara.
Jaguars living along the riverside also hunt armadillos, black agouti, tapir, sloths, etc. Jaguars are also experts in catching fish, turtles, and caimans from time to time. If you find a jaguar living near human habitation, they survive on snakes, eggs, and other domestic livestock.
Jaguars need a healthy and good food source to remain active and sharp. They get all of their energy and nutrient requirements from the meat they feast on.
How Often Do Jaguars Need to Eats?
We already know now what does a jaguar eats? The next question is how often they feel hungry or how many times a day they hunt and eat animals.
How many times a jaguar eats depends upon the factors such as the availability of prey and how often they can make a kill. If they have a food source nearby, they hunt and feed daily in smaller amounts.
Between meals, jaguars can also snack on small animals that are easy to find, such as lizards, porcupines, or birds if they want to. They can also eat large mammals such as capybara and giant anteaters once or twice a week.
If Jaguars don’t eat properly, they can quickly lose their strength and energy, putting them at the risk of becoming food from top predators. If a jaguar can’t hunt and catch prey, they don’t have any food source to survive.
Jaguars usually eat every day and, rarely, they don’t eat and hunt after every two days.
How Much Jaguar Eats?
Jaguars usually eat according to their appetite and maintain a healthy weight. They need to eat around 1.5 kilos of meat to conserve their energy. Their size of food depends upon the availability and size of the prey. If they eat a big animal, they won’t have to hunt all day. If they eat a small animal, they might track and eat another animal.
Jaguars feed mostly on the neck and chest of their prey. They first consume the hearts and the lungs, then move onto the shoulders. They drag their prey to the quiet spot or in their cave and then start eating them.
The giant jaguars can eat up to 90-120 kilos daily. These giant jaguars are found in Venezuela, and their counterparts are located in Central America, which can eat half that size.
How Do Jaguar Hunt their Prey?
Jaguars have a lot of strength, allowing them to locate and follow their prey from a distance. They use stalking and ambushing techniques to find their predators. They are very active and sharp, which means they will remain out of sight until they strike.
The name jaguar originates from the word Yajuar which means the one who kills with one leap. They have excellent vision and are considered nocturnal animals, which gives them night vision.
To attack and eat their prey, they have sharp canine teeth. These two features make the jaguar the top predator and allow them to hinder and devour their prey.
Most cats like leopards and jaguars kill their prey by biting and tearing their victims by the throat and crushing their skulls with one bite or blow. Jaguar will use its night vision to locate its next victim and then use its sharp teeth to kill its prey.
The typical pattern that jaguars follow to kill the prey is first to stalk them and stay out of the animal’s line of sight. They carefully separate their victim from their packs, and when they are alone, the jaguar attacks and kill them.
What do Jaguar Cubs Eat?
In general, Jaguar cubs are born blind and defenseless. Jaguar gives birth to between 1 and 4 cubs. Their mother looks after the feeding needs of the jaguar and makes them healthy and strong. These cubs drink milk till the age of three months.
After three months, the cubs are ready to eat the tiny morsels of meat that their mother brought home after hunting the animals. Cubs join their mothers on hunting trips when they reach the age of six months.
Mothers will teach young jaguars how to stalk, ambush and kill the prey if they want to survive in the forest. When the cub reaches the age of two years, they are big enough to hunt the prey.
Every animal-like jaguar has their independent territories and hunting ranges to kill and eat the prey. In forests, the maximum age that a jaguar will reach is 11 years. The decline in the age of jaguar is due to the high mortality rate due to predation, plague, or some illness.
What are the Predators of Jaguar?
Jaguars are at the top of their food chain, and they have some predators. These predators might include lions or tigers, but they rarely attack and eat jaguars. The real danger jaguars are facing nowadays is human activities. Due to these human activities, their habitat is no more.
Deforestation and poaching also put a threat to the jaguar specie. People also do illegal trade of jaguar’s body parts, making this animal extinct in many world areas.
The adult species of the jaguar is almost untouchable, but their young ones and little cubs can become the victim of other predators. Mostly black caimans and anacondas are the ones that attack the young ones of the cub.
When do Jaguars Prefer to Hunt?
Jaguars are nocturnal animals, and the recent research on them reveals that they are crepuscular. Crepuscular means that they are active both day and night. They can do hunt both at dawn and dusk.
In summers, Jaguars wait and rest for the hottest parts of the day, and they won’t hesitate to spend their time relaxing. While resting, if they find an opportunity to hunt and kill the prey, they will avail themselves of it. It could be any small animal or reptile they came across while resting in their home.
At night time, when the weather is normal, they can travel up to 10 kilometers in search of food, and their night vision can help them find the food source. They are likely to go into the area where they previously found the food source. They like to hunt capybara, peccaries, and tapirs in the dark.
The hunting time of jaguars also depends upon when they have eaten their last meal and how hungry they are. If they have eaten a large-sized animal, they probably won’t eat for the rest of the night.
Their prey continues to change with the season and weather due to the availability of their food source.
Why Jaguars are Considered Apex Predators?
In the animal kingdom, Jaguars are considered apex predators. They are also known as top predators because they are on the top of their food chain. Jaguars are powerful cats, and they look similar to leopards due to the spots they have on their skin. Jaguars are somewhat opportunistic predators reported to prey on more than 85 species across their geographic distribution.
They are considered predators because they are swift and catch prey very fast. They have a golden color, but there is also black jaguar found in the world. Black jaguars also have dark spots which are not visible due to their dark skin. Black jaguars are also known as blank panthers, but they are scarce to find.
Read Also: What are the 7 big cats in the world
Article Research: (PDF) Jaguar (Panthera onca) hunting activity: Effects of prey distribution and availability (researchgate.net)