The Jaguar (Panthera onca) is the largest wild cat in the Americas and is the only member of the Panthera big cat family in the Western Hemisphere. It is a large powerful cat with the strongest bite force of all the wild cats. Melanistic (black) Jaguars are common, and they are often called black panthers. Historically Jaguars occurred in the southern states of America and in Mexico, but nowadays due to habitat loss and persecution, they occur mostly in Central and South America, where populations continue to decline.
Key Facts about Jaguars
~ Largest wild cat in the Americas ~
~ Most powerful bite force ~
~ Melanistic form common ~
Jaguar (Panthera onca) Classification
Jaguars belong to the big cat genus Panthera and the full taxonomy or scientific classification of the Jaguar species is:
Kingdom: Animalia (animals)
Phylum: Chordata (vertebrates)
Class: Mammalia (mammals)
Order: Carnivora (carnivores)
Suborder: Feliformia (cat-like)
Subfamily: Pantherinae (big cats)
Genus: Panthera (big cats)
Species: Panthera onca (Jaguar)
The scientific name for Jaguar is Panthera onca which is also known as the binomial name, species name, latin name, biological name and zoological name. Some use the term 'botanical name' however that is only applicable to the plant kingdom (botany) and not the animal kingdom (zoology).
Jaguar (Panthera onca) Subspecies
Jaguar Lower Classifications
Historically up to nine subspecies (or lower classifications) of Jaguar have been recognized:
- Panthera onca onca
- Panthera onca arizonensis
- Panthera onca centralis
- Panthera onca goldmani
- Panthera onca hernandesii
- Panthera onca palustris
- Panthera onca paraguensis
- Panthera onca peruviana
- Panthera onca veraecrucis
However the last Felidae taxonomy revision in 2017 proposed that the Jaguar is a monotypic species (no subspecies). Recent genetic studies found insufficient evidence to support any Jaguar subspecies, however there are four regional groups that show variations from north to south of the Jaguar's range:
- Mexico and Guatemala
- Southern Central America
- North of the Amazon
- South of the Amazon
The global conservation status for Jaguars is Near Threatened (NT) and populations are declining.
The following organizations are all fighting to conserve our iconic Jaguars in the face of rapid deforestation and predator-farmer conflict:
Please support these organizations with their important work if you can. No matter the size of your contribution, every bit helps!
Jaguar Facts and Information
The following websites have well researched and authoritative information on Jaguars:
- Jaguar Status and Distribution Map - IUCN Red List
- Jaguar Detailed Information - IUCN Cat Specialist Group
- Jaguar Academic Literature pdf - IUCN Cat Specialist Group
2019 Big Cat Documentary:
Preview The Secret Lives of Big Cats filmed using high tech starlight and thermal imaging night cameras to capture previously unrecorded behavior. The series includes seven episodes on the secret lives of Lions, Tigers, Jaguars, Leopards, Snow Leopards, Pumas and Cheetahs. Produced by CuriosityStream.
Jaguar Documentaries and Videos
These documentaries and video clips about the Jaguar can be viewed online, via YouTube or a streaming subscription.
Video links often change, so if a link gives an error, try searching for the video title on Google to see if it is available elsewhere.
Jaguar Tours South America
The following organizations offer tours to South America where you are likely to see Jaguars in their natural habitat. These companies offer small group experiences, support conservation projects, and indicate their trips are environmentally and ethically responsible:
Always bear in mind that sightings of any particular animal in its natural environment are not guaranteed and the experience of guides will greatly enhance your success.