Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Jaguarundi Photographed in the American South?

I received an interesting photo from a reader this past week. The reader had very little information about the picture but said he thought it had come from a game camera in Mississippi or Missouri. If true, then we may very well have photographic proof that the jaguarundi has spread much farther North and East than anyone ever would have suspected (including me).

The jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi) is a relative of the cougar but much smaller. It averages between 30 and 45 inches long and can be dark in color though, it is thought, not black. According to the Mammals of Texas – Online Edition, “Jaguarundis live in the brush country of extreme south Texas in Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr, and Willacy counties – where it is rare.” They are not even supposed to get as far as East Texas much less Missouri or Mississippi. IF this photo does originate from either of these two states then it is an important discovery.

There is little doubt in my mind that the photo shows a jaguarundi. Compare the game camera photo to the picture of a jaguarundi in dark phase below and I think you’ll come to the same conclusion. The flat head, long body, small ears, thick long tail and overall weasel-like appearance are present in both photos. The cat in the game camera photo appears lighter, which would be more common than a darker specimen, but that is about the only difference I see.

I see nothing in the photo that would lead me to believe it is a fake of some kind. The only thing that I cannot be sure of is WHERE the photo was actually taken. I have no reason to doubt the story of the reader who sent me the photo. He readily admitted that it had not been his game camera that captured the photo. He stated that he had seen the picture on some sort of hunting forum and thought he remembered reading that it had been snapped in Mississippi or Missouri. If the jaguarundi has spread this far North and East then the species is doing far better than wildlife biologists believe. It would also prove that they are among the most elusive of North American mammals to have moved so far without detection.

If this photo does turn out to have come from Missouri or Mississippi then it could validate at least some of the “black panther” sightings so often reported in Texas and the Deep South. As you can see from the photo of the jaguarundi in dark-phase above, it wouldn’t be too hard to mistake one of these cats for a panther. They are larger than domestic/feral cats with long, thick tails. A quick glimpse of a dark jaguarundi crossing a road could fool almost anyone.

If there is anyone out there who knows the complete story behind this photo please contact me.


  1. If this photo is legitimate, it would be a great birthday present to me ;)

  2. Have you seen the reports in Magnolia? A car recently attacked a horse and someone actually caught a picture of a black cat! It was on the news in Houston today!

  3. I have not been able to find anything on that. Can you provide a link to a story on this incident?

  4. Here you go: http://www.myfoxhouston.com/story/23690098/2013/10/14/big-cats-attack-in-houston

  5. We definitely have these cats in S. Alabama and probably Mississippi. I've seen them twice. Have a game camera out in the area where one was sighted. I's been less than a week, but am hoping to confirm.

  6. Jaguars are extirpated in Texas, they have been since 1947-48 when the last confirmed individual was shot near San Benito. The jaguarundi, too, is most likely extirpated in the state, not having been confirmed since a specimen was found dead on a South Texas road in 1986. Ocelots will soon be gone if we can't bump the numbers, habitat, and wildlife corridors up - and the fact is that if trained scientists and wildlife enthusiasts aren't seeing the "black panther"/jaguar/jaguarundi critters that every other country hick and his mother is seeing and hearing, then the cats flat out aren't here. My question is, why do some people (cryptologists) spend all of their time listening to people with ZERO knowledge about the animals in question, while they at the same time blow off the educated, dedicated biologists who spend time and effort to come to the conclusion that these cats are extirpated?

    1. Most experts, that I know in my area haven't spent 60 years in the woods on a daily bases like some of us hicks have. They've spent too much time behind a desk. Recently I heard one of these experts say that alligators don't eat beavers, when anyone who has actually observed these things knows that they were a real nuisance to the forestry world in the recent past. Since the alligators have been protected and increased in number, beavers have become very rare. Why wouldn't they eat them? They're delicious.
      Besides there has never been a real study of jaguarundi by the scientific world in our area ( south Mississippi) so how can they say anything authoritative?

    2. This.^

      I live in Mexico (in an area where jaguarundis are called "leoncillo"- little lion-) and I have seen a stuffed specimen so big it dwarfed all the jaguarundis I've seen in zoos (or photographs for that matter). It was so big in fact I thought I was looking at a small puma at first (and I can tell them apart). I'm not going to say the place, but I do believe those particular mountains may be the home of the largest jaguarundis in the world, as apparently this was not considered a freak by the locals, but a perfectly normal individual.
      My point by saying this is that scientists don´t know everything, and regular people make a mistake whenever they accept their claims as absolute; I have read many books on jaguarundis and none of them mention specimens as big as the one I saw- not even close. But I saw the giant specimen and so has anyone who has been to that place where it's displayed; therefore, those giant jaguarundis do exist; it doesn´t matter that the educated "experts" sitting behind desks in London or New Yorkare not aware of their existence.

  7. The jaguarondi is a diurnal animal. It's unlikely it would be out at night. It is also hard to believe the deer would be that calm with a cat that near. This picture smells.

  8. We recently saw one of these jaguarondis on our ranch in Edwards county, TX, just 36 miles from the border. It was crossing the road as we were on our way out and it had paused while doing so, giving time to fully observe this animal. Leaving us only with a detailed description as we were unsure what kind of animal we had just witnessed. It was months later until we saw a magazine article illustrating how the jaguarondis might be making a comeback into Texas. There was no question, after having seen just a few images of the jaguarondi, that it was in fact the same animal we had come across.

  9. On Sunday Aug.23, while at Wintergreen resort in Wintergreen, VA, I saw a small, reddish-brown cat run across the road about 2:30 in the afternoon. It was slender, noticeably larger than a house cat, with a relatively smaller head, and a long tail.
    It was much more slender than a lynx, with solid coloring, and absent the distinct, tufted ears
    I researched wild cats of North America, and was surprised to come across the Jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi). I know without a doubt, that this is the cat I saw.