Ecology

Diet

The jaguar is at the top of the food chain and is exclusively a carnivore. Studies of its diet have registered over 85 species of natural prey.

The jaguar is an opportunistic hunter, feeding on the most abundant species in its ecosystem. In some regions of Brazil, jaguars feed mainly on large mammals such as peccaries, capybara, and tapirs. In other regions, the jaguar mainly feeds on reptiles such as turtles and caiman. In areas where the jaguar lives next to ranches, cattle can be a main part of the jaguar’s diet.

Home range and density

The size of each jaguar’s territory varies by where it is located. The smallest territories occur in the forests of Belize with a territory of about 5 square miles (13 square kilometers). The largest territories occur in the grasslands (Cerrado) of central Brazil with a territory of about 102 square miles (265 square kilometers). Male jaguars have larger territories than females. A male jaguar’s territory can encompass the territories of several females. The jaguar occurs in density of approximately 1 to 7 adult individuals per 39 square miles (100 square kilometers).