In Mayan mythology, the jaguar was seen as the ruler of the underworld, a symbol of night, sun and darkness and representing power, valor and ferocity. The name Jaguar originates from the word Indian word ‘yaguar’ which means ‘He who kills in one leap’.
Jaguars are predominantly South and Central American cats but were also found in Mexico and South Western USA.
They are solitary creatures, good at climbing trees and excellent swimmers, not hesitating to attack a caiman in a river. The reason they can make such a kill is because of their powerful bite and large incisors that penetrate through the skull and into the brain of the caiman.
They are typically ambush killers and although regarded as nocturnal, they normally operate mainly around dawn and dusk. They move along trails and paths listening as they go and then stalk their prey, pouncing on their potential meal from behind cover and in the prey animals blind spot.
Their prey includes but not limited to peccary( a type of wild pig), deer, monkey, tapirs(The worlds largest rodent), caiman, fish, sloths, and pretty much anything else that presents itself.
When the female is ready for mating her urine will have stronger odors compared to normal and she will have a variety of vocalizations to help the male to find her. there are potentially fights between males for the right to mate and once mating has occurred the male goes on his way again.
Gestation is 100 days and the litter could be up to 4 cubs but normally 2. They drink only milk from their mother for the first 3 months and will only venture out of the den at the age of about 6 months.
The mother brings meat back to the den for the cubs and during this time will fight off any males that come around. This is to protect the cubs as the males will kill her cubs so that they can father their own offspring.
The cubs will continue to stay and hunt with their mother for quite a few years until first the males move off to find their own territory and then the females leave but always staying relatively close to their mother. Females reach sexual maturity at between 2 to 3 years and the males at 3 to 4 years of age. Thus the males leave before reaching sexual maturity.
Our young jaguars can expect to live for around 11 years in the wild.