The Coolest Cat You Never Heard About
Hidden amid 12,000 images and videos that were downloaded from motion activated camera traps in a Central American jungle were a handful of images of the Puma yagouaroundi, the Jaguarundi!
This small cat sports a solid coat that can vary in color from one individual to the next. Jaguarundi can be tan, brown, reddish, gray, or nearly black. They gray color phase will often have a red or orange head.
The Jaguarundi is mostly terrestrial, but it certainly can climb when threatened or after a succulent food item. They are most often active during the daylight hours.
Food for the Jaguarundi consists of nearly anything that it can catch. Rodents or birds likely make up the bulk of it's diet. Reptiles, insects and fish are also considered normal prey items. As an opportunistic feeder, the Jaguarundi would certainly take an opossum or any other type of mammal that appeared vulnberable.
This wild cat is so unknown that even spell checkers don't recognize the the word 'Jaguarundi'.
Have you ever seen a Jaguarundi....anywhere?
Why has the Jaguarundi spent so much time under the radar? There are a variety of reasons for this. Unlike other wild cats, the coat of the jaguarundi is relatively unattractive to the fur industry. While jaguars and leopards have beautiful spotted coats, the jaguarundi 's coat appears dull compared to those cats.
In parts of Central America, the jaguarundi is practically unknown. Images shown to rural folks in Costa Rica often are met with a response of "Puma", or "Tolomoco". A dark phase puma or panther are actually quite uncommon. The tolomoco or tayra is a member of the weasel family and is relatively common in Central America. The tolomoco is often what people think they have seen when they catch the jaguarundi out of the corner of their eye. Finally, another name for the jaguarundi is 'otter cat'. This is because the cat has a body shape similar to the otter. It moves like and otter. It even enjoys being around the water like the otter. Oddly enough, one local name for the otter is the "water dog".
The Slinky Jaguarundi
A Jaguarundi Near You?
There have been reports of Jaguarundi populations in central Florida and Alabama. Camera traps and road-kills have not confirmed these reports as of yet.
While they are a protected species, they are listed as an animal of 'least concern'. Jaguarundi seem to have no natural enemies. Habitat destruction and poultry predation often lead to the demise of jaguarundi that live too close people.