Creatures of the Amazon
The Puma and the Jaguarundi

Puma concolor

By Eddie "Lalo" Calderon

Puma is a genus in Felidae that contains the Cougar (also known as the Puma, among other names) and the Jaguarundi.
Species:
Puma concolor (Linnaeus, 1771) - Cougar
Puma yagouaroundi (Geoffroy, 1803) - Jaguarundi (Jaguarondi)

The Cougar (Puma concolor), also known as the Puma, Mountain Lion, Panther, or Catamount, is a large cat of the family Felidae native to the Americas. Its range, from the Canadian Yukon to the southern Andes of South America and the Amazon Jungle, is the greatest of any large wild terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere. The cougar is found in every major American habitat type. It is the second heaviest cat in the Western Hemisphere, after the jaguar. Solitary by nature and nocturnal, the cougar is most closely related to smaller felines and is nearer genetically to the domestic cat than true lions.

Hunting and Diet
A successful generalist predator (An excellent stalk-and-ambush predator), the cougar will eat any animal it can catch, from insects to large ungulates (over 500 kg) such as deer, elk, moose, and bighorn sheep. Like all cats, it is an obligate carnivore meaning it needs to feed exclusively on meat to survive.
The cougar pursues a wide variety of prey. It will also hunt species as small as insects and rodents.

Reproduction and Life Cycle
Females reach sexual maturity between one-and-a-half to three years of age. They typically average one litter every two to three years throughout their reproductive life, though the period can be as short as one year. Females are in estrus for approximately 8 days of a 23-day cycle; the gestation period is approximately 91 days. females are sometimes reported as monogamous, but this is uncertain and polygyny may be more common. Copulation is brief but frequent. Research has also found that chronic stress can result in low reproductive rates when in captivity in addition to in the field. Cougar cubs Only females are involved in parenting. Female cougars are fiercely protective of their cubs, and have been seen to successfully fight off animals as large as grizzly bears in their defense. Litter size is between one and six cubs; typically two or three. Caves and other alcoves that offer protection are used as litter dens. Born blind, cubs are completely dependent on their mother at first, and begin to be weaned at around three months of age. As they grow, they begin to go out on forays with their mother, first visiting kill sites, and after six months beginning to hunt small prey on their own. Kitten survival rates are just over one per litter. When cougars are born, they have spots, but they lose them as they grow, and by the age of 2 1/2 years, they will completely be gone. Young adults leave their mother to attempt to establish their own territory at around two years of age and sometimes earlier; males tend to leave sooner. One study has shown high mortality amongst cougars that travel farthest from the maternal range, often due to conflicts with other cougars (intraspecific competition).Research in New Mexico has shown that "males dispersed significantly farther than females, were more likely to traverse large expanses of non-cougar habitat, and were probably most responsible for nuclear gene flow between habitat patches." Life expectancy in the wild is reported at between 8 to 13 years, and probably averages 8 to 10; a female of at least 18 years was reported killed by hunters on Vancouver Island. Cougars may live as long as 20 years in captivity. Causes of death in the wild include disability and disease, competition with other cougars, starvation, accidents, and, where allowed, human hunting. Feline immunodeficiency virus, an endemic HIV-like virus in cats, is well-adapted to the cougar.

The Jaguarundi, also called Eyra cat, is a small-sized wild cat native to Central and South America. In 2002, the IUCN classified the jaguarundi as Least Concern, although they considered it likely that no conservation units beyond the mega-reserves of the Amazon basin could sustain long-term viable populations. It is probably extinct in Texas. Its presence in Uruguay is uncertain.

In some Spanish speaking countries, the Jaguarundi is also called "Gato Colorado", "Gato Moro", "León Brenero", "Onza", and "Tigrillo", Leoncillo. Leoncillo means little lion. It is also called Gato-Mourisco, Eirá, Gato-Preto and Maracajá-Preto in Portuguese. "Jaguarundi" comes from Old Tupi yawaum'di. The Jaguarundi has short legs, an elongated body and a long tail. The ears are short and rounded. The coat is unspotted and uniform in color, with, at most, a few faint markings on the face and underside. The coat can be either blackish to brownish grey (grey phase) or foxy red to chestnut (red phase); individuals of both phases can be born in the same litter. It has a total length of 53 to 77 cm (21 to 30 in) with a 31 to 60 cm (12 to 24 in) long tail, and weighs 3.5 to 9.1 kg (7.7 to 20 lb).

Distribution of Subspecies

Puma yagouaroundi yagouaroundi (Geoffroy, 1803), Geoffroy's Jaguarundi — Guyana and the Amazon Rainforest.
Puma yagouaroundi melantho (Thomas, 1914) — Peru and Brazil.

Jaguarundis are primarily diurnal, being active during the day rather than evenings or night time. They are comfortable in trees, but prefer to hunt on the ground. They will eat almost any small animal that they can catch, typically catching a mixture of rodents, small reptiles, and ground-feeding birds. They have also been observed to kill larger prey, such as rabbits, and opossums; relatively unusual prey include fish and even marmosets. Like many other cats they also include a small amount of vegetation and arthropods in their diet.

Reproduction
The timing of the breeding season among jaguarundis is unclear; they breed all year round. Oestrus lasts three to five days, marked by the female regularly rolling onto her back and spraying urine. After a gestation period of 70 to 75 days the female gives birth to a litter of one to four kittens in a den constructed in a dense thicket, hollow tree, or similar cover.[5]

The kittens are born with spots on their underside, which disappear as they age. The young are capable of taking solid food at around six weeks, although they begin to play with their mother's food as early as three weeks. Jaguarundis become sexually mature at approximately two years of age, and have lived for up to ten years in captivity.

Dark colored Jauguarundi


Ecology and Behavior
Jaguarundis are primarily diurnal, being active during the day rather than evenings or night time. They are comfortable in trees, but prefer to hunt on the ground. They will eat almost any small animal that they can catch, typically catching a mixture of rodents, small reptiles, and ground-feeding birds. They have also been observed to kill larger prey, such as rabbits, and opossums; relatively unusual prey include fish and even marmosets. Like many other cats they also include a small amount of vegetation and arthropods in their diet.

Reproduction
The timing of the breeding season among jaguarundis is unclear; they breed all year round. Oestrus lasts three to five days, marked by the female regularly rolling onto her back and spraying urine. After a gestation period of 70 to 75 days the female gives birth to a litter of one to four kittens in a den constructed in a dense thicket, hollow tree, or similar cover.

Threats
Jaguarundis are not particularly sought after for their fur, but are suffering decline due to loss of habitat.
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