Hunt For The Shadow Cat: Facts

Video highlights from Hunt For The Shadow Cat

`

1. Male jaguars use paths people have made to travel around the jungle.  Their footprints are often found in the middle of the tracks and their scrape and scent marks are evident along the edge.

2. Female jaguars, unlike the males, keep away from the pathways and keep to the dense vegetation. Scientists believe one reason female jaguars keep themselves and their young hidden is to avoid males as they are known to attack and kill young jaguars.

3. One of the biggest threats to a jaguar – is another jaguar. The males have vicious fights over territories and for females. Although scientists rarely see the fights, remote cameras placed in their habitats have photographed badly injured males with open wounds from fights.  

4. Jaguars can suffer from bad teeth! Older jaguars often have snapped or missing canines as their diet of armadillos and tortoises with very tough shells wears their teeth out.

5. Jaguar hunters used to attract their targets by mimicking the deep rasping growl of the jaguar with a ‘jaguar caller’. Different types of jaguar callers can still be found across South America, from hollow bamboo pipes in Brazil to leather covered gourds in Central America.

6. The jaguar has for a long time been a powerful symbol to the people living in its territory. Mayans have revered the jaguar for thousands of years as a symbol of royalty and power, and in Belize there are Mayan jaguar cave paintings thought to be over 2000years old.  

7. Jaguar and puma footprints can be told apart by the shape of their toes. Pumas toes are tear drop shaped, while jaguars have more oval ones.

8. A jaguars’ four feet are not all the same size. Their two front paws are much larger than their back paws, since they need their front two for clutching on to prey.

9. Jaguars were thought to be many different subspecies – but recent research has revealed they are all one species ranging from Mexico down to Argentina.

10. Belize plays a vital part in Jaguar conservation. This small Central American country is creating jaguar friendly ‘corridors’. These areas connect the jaguar habitats of Central and South America and prevent jaguars from becoming isolated from each other and inbreeding.

11. Jaguars will return to their kill for days, often pulling the carcass under trees to try and prevent the vultures from getting it. They are efficient hunters but have also been filmed scavenging off carcasses they haven’t killed.

12. Jaguars can quickly overheat to dangerous levels when they are tranquilized. When scientists dart a jaguar to attach a collar in hot weather, they must cover the cat in ice and cold water to keep its temperature down.

13. Boone Smith’s the fourth generation cat trapper in the Smith family. He was first taught by his grandfather who was a cat bounty hunter, and today his dad and his brother Rusty are all professional cat trappers.

14. Jaguars are the only cat species that routinely kills by crushing the skulls of their prey. In Brazil, jaguars can kill capybara by inserting their canine through the ear canal and crushing the brain case.

15. Jaguars have sweaty feet – they have scent glands between their toes that leave a scent trail on the ground where they’ve walked.

Discuss this article

Newsletter

Never miss a Nat Geo moment

Your email address
Submit