The strange looking Jaguarundi (Herpailurus or Puma yagouaroundi) 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. As with most wild cats, habitat loss and fragmentation due to clearing of land for farming are the major threats, and studies show the cat is far less common than previously reported.
Unique Facts about Jaguarundis
~ Body shape similar to weasels ~
~ Plain coat with red and dark color morphs ~
~ Active during the day time ~
Jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi) Classification
The Jaguarundi belongs to the genus Herpailurus (or Puma) and the full taxonomy, scientific classification or higher classification of the Jaguarundi species (Herpailurus yagouaroundi or Puma yaguaroundi) is as follows:
Kingdom: Animalia (animals)
Phylum: Chordata (vertebrates)
Class: Mammalia (mammals)
Order: Carnivora (carnivores)
Suborder: Feliformia (cat-like)
Family: Felidae (cats)
Subfamily: Felinae (small cats)
Genus: Herpailurus or Puma
Species: Herpailurus yagouaroundi
or Puma yaguaroundi (Jaguarundi)
Jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi) Subspecies
The global conservation status for the Jaguarundi is Least Concern (LC) and populations are declining.
Up to eight subspecies of Jaguarundis have been described in the past:
- Herpailurus yagouaroundi yagouaroundi
- Herpailurus yagouaroundi ameghinoi
- Herpailurus yagouaroundi cacomitli
- Herpailurus yagouaroundi eyra
- Herpailurus yagouaroundi fossata
- Herpailurus yagouaroundi melantho
- Herpailurus yagouaroundi panamensis
- Herpailurus yagouaroundi tolteca
However according to the current Felidae taxonomic revision, recent DNA studies show no evidence to support these subspecies and the species is considered monotypic (no subspecies).
Jaguarundi Conservation & Research
The following organizations are dedicated to research and conservation of the smaller cats of Latin America:
Please support these organizations with their important work. No matter how small or large your donation, every bit helps!
- Border Cats Working Group - focus on Jaguar, Jaguarundi and Ocelot in the southern border region of the USA (2000 - 2009).
Jaguarundi Facts and Information
The following websites have well researched and authoritative information on Jaguarundis:
- Jaguarundi Fact Sheet - International Soc. for Endangered Cats (ISEC)
- Jaguarundi Images and Video Clips in the Wild - ARKive
Books on Neotropical Cats
Currently there is no publication in print dedicated to just the cats of Central and South America.
A book entitled Neotropical Cats by TG de Oliviera was published in 1994 however is no longer in print, and may be available in libraries or in used book stores.
The latest information on these cats can be found in books about all wild cats.