Big Cats - Jaguarondi
( Originally Published 1936 )
This remarkable Cat, which is found as far north as Texas and whose range extends into South America, is one of the strangest forms of its order. For many years the creature known as Felis Eyra was considered to be a different species, although closely allied; but it has been recently proved by the best authorities that the Eyra and the Jaguarondi are but varieties of the same animal. The colour of the fur is nearly uniform, varying from a grisly-grey to a reddish-brown in different individuals. It was formerly thought that this reddish-brown colour distinguished the Eyra, but of late years specimens in all stages between these two in colour have been found, some more reddish, others more greyish, as the case might be.
The Jaguarondi has many peculiar characteristics, its general proportions differing widely from the other members of its order. The neck is very long and thick, the head flattened in profile, the nose very stout and thick, and the chin receding. The ears are short and rounded, and set close against the head, giving a somewhat weasel or ichneumon-like appearance to the creature. The total absence of markings on the face also serves to differentiate it from cats in general. The feet are small and compact, the hind legs much longer than the forward pair. In walking the back is arched, the head carried low, the long, thick tail dragging the ground. The nostrils are set wide apart, giving the nose a thick, fleshy appearance unlike that of other cats, and it is, in fact, the most uncatlike of all the species in this class of animals.
A number of Jaguarondis have been captured in the vicinity of Brownsville, Texas, in the low sage-brush and cactus which abound in that neighbour-hood. They hide so successfully that they are difficult to shoot, but are quite easily trapped. Their food consists of small mammals and birds caught on or near the ground.
The two young specimens in the Washington Zoological Park, one of which is reddish-brown and the other grey, exhibit the traits of cats in general, remaining very quiet most of the time, probably through fear, and spitting and snarling at visitors. They show little intelligence, and in walking, especially, give one the impression of being a rather low and primitive type of this family.