Did you know that Texas is home to the jaguarundi?
The jaguarundi is a medium-sized cat with a mean body size of 102 centimeters for females and 114 for males according to Mexican researcher Arturo Caso. Other sources list them as ranging from 100 to 120 centimeters with the tail making up the greatest part of the length.
Most specimens are about 20 centimeters tall and sport a dark gray color while others are chocolate brown or blonde.
Jaguarundis are known to range from South America to the Mexican borders of Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. The key word here is “known”. That means scientists have observed or captured the species within those areas, however they are reported to range much farther north in the Lone Star State and perhaps elsewhere.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) officials solicited information from the public and received numerous reports of the species in the 1960s, including several sightings from central and east Texas. Additional sightings were reported from as far away as Florida, Oklahoma, and Colorado
In a study conducted in 1984, TPWD biologists noted a string of unconfirmed jaguarundi sightings in Brazoria County, which corners the hugely populated areas of Houston and Galveston.
More than a decade ago, I had a jaguarundi sighting far north of their accepted range and this inspired a deep interest in their research.
My friend Jim Broaddus of Bear Creek Feline Center in Panama City, Florida has some of the only captive jaguarundis in America and is involved in a project called “The Search for Little Foot” that is looking for the mysterious cats in Florida.
Our Kingdom Zoo: Education Center will bring the project to Texas. We will look for these cats on some properties along the Texas-Mexico corridor and in other locations with game cameras. It’s super exciting, and the best part is we will have kids involved in setting out and monitoring the cameras.
If you have a jaguarundi photo or would like to help with the project email [email protected]