Jaguars are found primarily in the rainforests of Central America. They are carnivores and are good swimmers, and they grow from 4 to 6 feet in length. Though Jaguars prefer rainforests, they have expanded their habitat to include deserts and grasslands of Mexico and both Central and South America. They are a top-level predator whose only natural enemies are humans. Jaguars are endangered and are thought to number only about 15,000 in the world.
Jaguars are the world's third largest cat, behind only lions and tigers. Males weigh 125 to 250 pounds, while females weigh 100 to 200 pounds. Their coats are gold with black rosettes. Occasionally, a cub is born with a genetic mutation, causing an all-black coat. These jaguars are commonly called black panthers.
Jaguars' coats are prized by hunters, contributing to the big cats' endangerment. As rainforest land is invaded by human activity, the jaguar's habitat has shrunk drastically, forcing jaguars to migrate to deserts and grassland. The Jaguar Corridor Initiative was launched in 2004 by conservation organization Panthera to create a protected rainforest habitat, enabling jaguars to roam and breed.
Jaguars mate in August and September, with a gestation of about 100 days, and have litters of one to four cubs. The females teach cubs to hunt, and cubs are independent at 2 years.
Jaguars hunt a wide range of species and can also fish, dipping their tails in the water to attract fish. They are skilled climbers and often drop from trees onto unsuspecting prey. The jaguar's jaws are strong enough to crack a sea turtle's shell.