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 or scientific classification of the Jaguarundi species is:
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 / Puma
Species: Herpailurus / Puma yagouaroundi (Jaguarundi)
The scientific name for the Jaguarundi is Herpailurus yagouaroundi or Puma yagouaroundi; which is also known as the binomial name, species name, latin name, biological name or zoological name. Some use the term 'botanical name' however that term is only applicable to the plant kingdom (botany) and not the animal kingdom (zoology).
Jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi) Subspecies
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 last Felidae taxonomic revision in 2017, DNA studies show no evidence to support these subspecies and the species is considered monotypic (no subspecies).
Jaguarundi Conservation & Research
The global conservation status for the Jaguarundi is Least Concern (LC) however populations are declining.
The following organizations are dedicated to research and conservation of the smaller cats of Latin America:
Please support these organizations with their important work if you can. No matter the size of 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 Status and Distribution Map - IUCN Red List
- Jaguarundi Detailed Information - IUCN Cat Specialist Group
- Jaguarundi Academic Reference List - IUCN Cat Specialist Group
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.