Herpailurus yagouaroundi 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Felidae

Scientific Name: Herpailurus yagouaroundi
Species Authority: (É. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1803)
Common Name(s):
English Jaguarundi, Eyra Cat
Spanish León Brenero, Gato Colorado, Gato Moro, Jaguarundi, Leoncillo, Onza, Tigrillo, Yaguarundi, Yaguarundí
Felis yagouaroundi É. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1803
Herpailurus yagouaroundi (Lacépède, 1809) [name invalid]
Puma yagouaroundi (É. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1803)
Taxonomic Source(s): Segura, V., Prevosti, F. and Cassini, G. 2013. Cranial ontogeny in the Puma lineage, Puma concolor, Herpailurus yagouaroundi, and Acinonyx jubatus (Carnivora: Felidae): a three-dimensional geometric morphometric approach. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 169(1): 235-250.
Taxonomic Notes: Taxonomy is currently under review by the IUCN SSC Cat Specialist Group.  Johnson et al. (2006) and Eizirik et al. (2008) placed yagouaroundi in the genus Puma. However, Agnarsson et al. (2010) noted that the Jaguarundi is not a sister species to the Puma. More recently Segura et al. (2013) looked at cranial development within the Puma clade and found that while this is similar in Cheetah and Puma, that of the Jaguarundi is quite different. Given these phylogenetic uncertainties, and these and other morphological and behavioural differences, the IUCN SSC Cat Specialist Group retains this species in Herpailurus.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2014-05-09
Assessor(s): Caso, A., de Oliveira, T. & Carvajal, S.V.
Reviewer(s): Nowell, K., Hunter, L., Schipper, J., Breitenmoser-Würsten, C., Lanz, T. & Breitenmoser, U.
Contributor(s): Lopez-Gonzalez, C.A., Payan, E., Eizirik, E., Leite-Pitman, M.R.P., Kelly, M. & Valderrama, C.
The Jaguarundi is much less abundant than previously perceived, with population sizes intrinsically small and needs to be monitored in the future as the threats persists and will likely fragment and reduce the overall population. It is more commonly associated with open formations like savannas, but could also be found in disturbed formations such as pastures (Caso 2013). However, it usually ranks low within the felid guild – de Oliveira et al. 2010, de Oliveira 2011), therefore, the rampant habitat conversion to industrial agriculture of the Brazilian savannas of the Cerrado biome should pose a serious threat for the species. With density estimates considerably low, extent of occurrence considerably smaller than its extensive area of occupancy, and the negative impact of Ocelots (Caso 2013, de Oliveira et al. 2010, de Oliveira 2011) it is likely that no conservation units, with the probable exception of the mega-reserves of the Amazon basin could sustain long-term viable populations of Jaguarundis.  In Brazil, that comprises most of the species geographic range, the Jaguarundi was considered Vulnerable (C1), given its reduced area of occupancy (AOO), expected decline of 10% in the next 15 years due to habitat loss and fragmentation, very low population densities and its estimated effective population size (Almeida et al. 2013). In Mexico, it seems that most Jaguarundi populations are stable, however, the subspecies P. y. cacomitli (Gulf Coast Jaguarundi) of northeast Mexico is the most in danger. This species could already be Near Threatened (A3c), however, there is not currently enough information to make this judgement range wide. Therefore, the species is listed as Least Concern but it should be regularly reviewed.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2008 Least Concern (LC)
2002 Least Concern (LC)
1996 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
1990 Indeterminate (I)
1988 Indeterminate (I)
1986 Indeterminate (I)
1982 Indeterminate (I)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Jaguarundi occurs from the eastern lowlands of Chipinque National Park in Nuevo Leon, Mexico (NE limit) and the western lowlands of Mexico, all the way to southern Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay (Dotta et al. 2007) and south through central Argentina at ca 39ºS. This is predominantly a lowland species ranging up to 2,000 m, but in Colombia has been reported up to 3,200 m (Cuervo et al. 1986) It is probably extinct in the US (south Texas) (Sunquist and Sunquist 2002, Caso 2013).
Countries occurrence:
Argentina; Belize; Bolivia, Plurinational States of; Brazil; Colombia; Costa Rica; Ecuador; El Salvador; French Guiana; Guatemala; Guyana; Honduras; Mexico; Nicaragua; Panama; Paraguay; Peru; Suriname; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of
Possibly extinct:
United States (Texas)
Upper elevation limit (metres):3200
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Contrary to earlier characterizations of this species as relatively common and abundant (Nowell and Jackson 1996), research indicates that the Jaguarundi is an uncommon, low density species. Densities are very low everywhere it has been sampled, and Jaguarundis are more commonly found at 0.01-0.05/km² or lower (de Oliveira et al. submitted), but reaching up to 0.2/km² in a few and restricted high density areas (Caso 2013). The Jaguarundi’s density/numbers are negatively impacted by those of the larger sized Ocelot (the “ocelot effect”) (de Oliveira et al. 2010, Caso 2013). Considered Near Threatened in Argentina (Diaz and Ojeda 2000) and threatened in Mexico (SEMARNAT 2010).
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:The Jaguarundi occupies a broad range of both open and closed habitats, from Monte desert, semi-arid thorn scrub, restinga, swamp and savanna woodland to primary rainforest (Nowell and Jackson 1996). However, in open areas it sticks to vegetative cover, including secondary growth habitat, disturbed areas, and human induced grasslands (Mexico), open areas with some protection, provided forest or other dense cover is present (de Oliveira 1994, Caso 2013). This felid is perceived as more tolerant of human disturbance due to its use of open habitats.

This small-sized felid (5 kg) body shape suggests the species to be mostly terrestrial. However, it moves about easily in trees (de Oliveira 1994). Its litter size is 1.9 kittens (1–4). Because it is mostly diurnal, it tends to be the most easily seen Neotropical felid, which lead to the false assumption it was common. Diet includes mostly small mammals, birds and reptiles, with a mean prey mass of 380 g. However, larger sized prey (>1 kg) are not unusual (de Oliveira and Cassaro 2005, de Oliveira et al. 2010). Home range size varies greatly, ranging up to 100 km², larger than for any other Neotropical small cat (Konecny 1989), but smaller in Mexico (16.2 male; 12.1 female  km²) (Caso 2013). The species is not the dominant small cat species in most areas, even in most areas of open habitats. Additionally, Jaguarundi is also negatively impacted by Ocelots (the “ocelot effect”) (de Oliveira et al. 2010, Caso 2013). It has several colour morphs - brownish-black, grey and reddish yellow - which can even be found in the same litter (de Oliveira 1998).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The species is generally not exploited for commercial trade, although Jaguarundis are doubtless caught in traps set for commercially valuable species and may be subject to low intensity hunting pressure around settled areas (Nowell and Jackson 1996). Its main threats are however, habitat loss and fragmentation, especially for large scale agriculture and pasture. Jaguarundis are commonly killed for killing poultry (IUCN Cats Red List workshop 2007, Caso 2013).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Included on CITES Appendix II. Populations of Central and North America are CITES Appendix I. The species is protected across most of its range, with hunting prohibited in Argentina, Belize, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, French Guiana, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Suriname, Uruguay, United States and Venezuela, and hunting regulations in place in Peru (Nowell and Jackson 1996). Further studies are required on the species ecology, demographics, natural history, and threats. Populations in protected areas are expected to be very low, likely because of the impact of the higher Ocelot densities (T.G. de Oliveira pers. comm.). This species is often perceived as not threatened due to its visibility (it is diurnal) and use of open habitats.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.5. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Forest -> 1.6. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Forest -> 1.9. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane
suitability: Marginal  
2. Savanna -> 2.1. Savanna - Dry
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
2. Savanna -> 2.2. Savanna - Moist
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
3. Shrubland -> 3.5. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
3. Shrubland -> 3.6. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Moist
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
4. Grassland -> 4.5. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability: Suitable  
4. Grassland -> 4.6. Grassland - Subtropical/Tropical Seasonally Wet/Flooded
suitability: Suitable  
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
1. Land/water protection -> 1.2. Resource & habitat protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
2. Land/water management -> 2.3. Habitat & natural process restoration
3. Species management -> 3.2. Species recovery
3. Species management -> 3.3. Species re-introduction -> 3.3.1. Reintroduction
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.1. Captive breeding/artificial propagation
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.2. Genome resource bank

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
4. Transportation & service corridors -> 4.1. Roads & railroads
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.2. Unintentional effects (species is not the target)
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.3. Persecution/control
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.1. Fire & fire suppression -> 7.1.3. Trend Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing: Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.1. Taxonomy
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

Bibliography [top]

Agnarsson, I., Kuntner, M. and May-Collado, L.J. 2010. Dogs, cats, and kin: A molecular species-level phylogeny of Carnivora. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 54: 726-745.

Caso, A. 2013. Spatial differences and local avoidance of ocelot (Leopardus pardalis) and jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi) in northeast Mexico. PhD thesis. Texas A&M University, Kingsville, Texas.

Cuervo, A., Hernadez, J. and Cadena, C. 1986. Lista atualizada de los mamíferos de Colômbia: anotaciones sobre su distribucion. Caldasia 15: 471-501.

de Oliveira, T.G. 1998. Herpailurus yagouaroundi. Mammalian Species 578: 1-6.

Diaz, G. and Ojeda, R. (eds). 2000. Libro rojo de mamíferos amenazados de la Argentina. SAREM, Sociedad Argentina para el Estudio de los Mamíferos, Mendoza,. Argentina.

Dotta, G., Queirolo, D. and Senra, A. 2007. Distribution and conservation stuatus of small felids on the Uruguyan savanna ecoregion, southern Brazil and Uruguay. In: J. Hughes and R. Mercer (eds), Felid Biology and Conservation Conference 17-19 September: Abstracts, pp. 105. WildCRU, Oxford, UK.

Eizirik, E., Haag, T., Santos, A.S., Salzano, F.M., Silveira, L., Azevedo, F.C.C. and Furtado, M.M. 2008. Jaguar conservation genetics. Cat News Special Issue 4(31-34).

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. Available at: www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 23 June 2015).

Johnson, W.E., Eizirik, E., Pecon-Slattery, J., Murphy, W.J., Antunes, A., Teeling, E. and O'Brien, S.J. 2006. The late Miocene radiation of modern Felidae: a genetic assessment. Science 311: 73-77.

Konecny, M.J. 1989. Movement patterns and food habits of four sympatric carnivore species in Belize, Central America. In: K.H. Redford and J.F. Eisenberg (eds), Advances in Neotropical Mammalogy, pp. 243-264. Sandhill Crane Press, Gainesville, Florida.

Nowell, K. and Jackson, P. 1996. Wild Cats. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Oliveira, T.G. de. 1994. Neotropical cats: ecology and conservation. EDUFMA, São Luís, MA, Brazil.

Oliveira, T.G. de, Mazim F.D., Kasper, C.B., Tortato, M.A., Soares, J.B.G. and Marques, R.V. Submitted. Small Neotropical felids density in Brazil: a preliminary demographic assessment of the little known species. Biological Conservation.

Oliveira, T.G. de, Tortato, M.A., Silveira, L., Kasper, C.B., Mazim, F.D., Lucherini, M. Jácomo, A.T., Soares, J.B.G., Marques, R.V. and Sunquist, M. 2010. Ocelot ecology and its effect in the small-felid guild in the lowland Neotropics. In: D.W. Macdonald and A. Loveridge (eds), Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids, pp. 563-584. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Segura, V., Prevosti, F. and Cassini, G. 2013. Cranial ontogeny in the Puma lineage, Puma concolor, Herpailurus yagouaroundi, and Acinonyx jubatus (Carnivora: Felidae): a three-dimensional geometric morphometric approach. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 169(1): 235-250.

SEMARNAT. 2010. Norma Oficial Mexicana NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2010, Protección ambiental-Especies nativas de México de flora y fauna silvestres-Categorías de riesgo y especificaciones para su inclusión, exclusión o cambio-Lista de especies en riesgo. Diario Oficial de la Federación.

Sunquist, M. and Sunquist, F. 2002. Wild Cats of the World. University of Chicago Press.

Citation: Caso, A., de Oliveira, T. & Carvajal, S.V. 2015. Herpailurus yagouaroundi. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T9948A50653167. . Downloaded on 28 November 2015.
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