The jaguar, along with the snow leopard, tiger, lion, and leopard, make up the five big cats that belong to the Panthera genus. The jaguar, tiger, lion and leopard have an incomplete ossification of the hyoid bone, located in the throat region, that enables these four cat species to roar. Roaring is a method of communication between individual jaguars mainly during the mating season. Members of the smaller species of cats can only meow as a form of communication.

Jaguars concentrate their activities around dawn and dusk, however, behavior varies by geographic region. In dense jungle habitats, the jaguar may be active during the day.

The jaguar is a territorial animal, and uses scrape marks on trees, urine, and feces to mark its territory. The jaguar is a solitary animal that only interacts with other individuals of the species to court and mate.

Females reach sexual maturity at approximately two years. Males reach sexual maturity at approximately three years, and are attracted by the scent marks and vocalization of the females.