Jaguarundi (Puma jaguarondi)
[Note: we insert the image above only to give a general idea of what these cat-like animals look like. We currently have no photograph from the Cascabel area. This drawing above was made during the time of Charles Darwin and merely provides a general sense of the Jaguarundi's distinctive appearance.]
Main sources: Nowak, Ronald, 1991, Walker's Mammals of the world, Fifth Edition (two vols.), Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press; Hoffmeister, D. F., 1986, Mammals of Arizona, Tucson: University of Arizona Press; Burt, W. & R. Grossenheider, eds., 1976, A Field Guide to the Mammals, Peterson Field Guides: Houghton Mifflin; Eisenberg, John, 1980, The Mammalian Radiations, Chicago: University of Chicago Press; Budiansky, Steven, 2001, (See also O'Brien, Stephen, & Warren Johnson, "Evolution of Cats", Scientific American July 2007, pp. 68-75.)
Jaguarunds live mainly south of the Mexican border, but they are reported from both Texas and Arizona (though very rarely). For details on the general character of the Puma lineage, see Mountain Lion.
Jaguarundis are distinct from the other cats of our area in the following details. They have long, slender bodies with short legs, leading some people to call them “weasel-like”. Body length is 30” (to 40”) plus a very long tail, 20” to 24” (the tail is 2/3 the length of the rest of the body). Their short and somewhat rounded ears are also sometimes labeled “weasel-like”. Their color is quite variable, from dark grey/brown to almost chestnut-brown (apparently the more pale coloring is found more in arid lands), and these cats are distinctly non-spotted. Their heads are small in comparison with the rest of the body (as the image above illustrates, perhaps exaggerates somewhat). The overall size of the animal is that of a “very large house cat”, up to 20 pounds.
Jaguarundis are very adaptable to many environments, from tropical forest to desert bush, but they prefer to live where dense vegetation is present (“dense, thorny thickets”, says one source), and they are usually found near running water. They hunt both on ground and from trees, by day as well as night, and are said to be expert fish-catchers using their probing front paws. They are mostly solitary animals.