Jaguarundi – Herpailurus yaguarondi
The jaguarundi shares characteristics with the ocelot; both live in far south Texas and consume similar prey species consisting of rabbits, small birds, and rodents. Not much larger than a house cat, the jaguarundi is smaller than the ocelot and weighs between 8 – 16 pounds. Kittens are born after 60 – 75 days of gestation, and females produce 2 – 4 kittens.
Sharing the same lineage as the mountain lion, they are a solid color and may be rusty-brown or grey. Physically, they have long, slender bodies, a long tail, and a small flat head. They resemble weasels or otters more so than cats. In fact, in some parts of South America they are referred to as otter cats.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service has a recovery plan that would remove the jaguarundi from the endangered species list. It calls for at least three separate populations, with a total size of 500 individuals. Jaguarundis face the same problems of habitat degradation as the ocelot.
Of all our Texas cats, we possess the least information about these cats because of their official lack of presence, though there are anecdotal sightings.
Key points about jaguarundis
- Jaguarundi is endangered in the United States
- Last one was seen about 30 years ago outside Brownsville
- US Fish and Wildlife Service has a recovery plan
- Jaguarundis’ and ocelots’ habitats overlap
- They hunt primarily during the day