The Jaguarundi ranges across Mexico, Central and South America and is now considered extinct in the southern United States.
Previously described with a number of subspecies, partly due to its different coat colors, recent DNA studies show the Jaguarundi is in fact a monotypic species.
The Jaguarundi is one of the most unusual of the New World cat species, being somewhat weasel-like in appearance. The body is long and slender, with short legs, a small, flattened head, short, rounded ears, and a long tail.
Unlike many other small South American cats, the coat lacks spots, but the jaguarundi is probably the most variable in colour of all wild cats. The species occurs in two main colour morphs: a dark morph, which is uniform black, brownish or grey in colour, sometimes slightly lighter on the underparts, and a paler red morph, which may vary from tawny yellow to bright chestnut red. Individual hairs tend to be lighter on the base and the tip, giving some individuals a grizzled appearance.
The red morph was once considered a separate species, Felis eyra, but it is now known that individuals of both colours can occur in the same population and even in the same litter.
In general, the dark morph is believed to be more common in rainforest habitats, and the paler morph in drier environments, although both morphs can be found in both environments.
Owing to its weasel-like appearance, the dark morph jaguarundi is often mistaken for the tayra (Eira barbara), a large mustelid, but can be distinguished by the absence of the tayra’s yellowish throat spot, and by having a very long, slender tail with very short hair.
The Jaguarundi is quite a vocal cat, with at least 13 distinct calls recorded, including a purr, whistle, scream, chatter, yap, and a bird-like “chirp”.
Excerpt from ARKive.org Jaguarundi Factsheet.
Have you ever seen a Jaguarundi? What were your impressions? I recently saw a video clip of a rescued one at a UK wild cat centre – definitely a strange looking animal with an extraordinarily long body!
Here is a link to my posts about Jagaurundis on Facebook including that clip: https://www.facebook.com/profile/100063455140130/search/?q=jaguarundi