Jaguar VS Lion

If there was a fight between these two awesome wild cats, who would win?

African lions and jaguars are exclusively carnivores and the greatest predators in their natural environments.

However, they don’t share many similarities.

Their natural habitats, social habits, hunting style and reproduction ways are vastly different.

The Jaguar belongs to the “Felidae Family” of New World wild mammals.

It’s one of the 4 “large felines” of the Panthera genus, the same genus that the tiger, lion, and leopard belong to.

The jaguar is the biggest and strongest wild cat in the Western Hemisphere zone.

The lion is known as “the king of the jungle” and its rich mane gives it a royal look. It’s no wonder the lion is depicted as a symbol of power on several country flags and communities.

The lion is a mammal of the Felidae family and one of the largest cats in the Panthera genus.

The lion is the second biggest wild cat after the tiger.

Lions are special in that they are the only felines to live in groups called prides.

Their Size and Appearance

Jaguars are fairly compressed yet well-built animals.

Their length reaches between 5.3-6 feet or 160-182cm and their height is on average 27-30 inches or 68-72cm at their shoulders.

Their tail is also long, measuring approx. 2-3 feet or 60-70cm.

Many Jaguars weigh on average around 80 pounds or 36kg.

Bigger jaguars though can weigh between 288-333 pounds or 130-150kg.

The core coat of the jaguar is a tan yellow in color and it sometimes appears a reddish medium brown or black.

The jaguar also bears “rosettes” for camouflage in its environment.

The rosettes differ over different coats and among individual Jaguars.

The spots on the head and neck are typically solid, similar to those found in the tail. where they unite to make a band.

Their underbelly, throat, and exterior surface of the legs and lower flanks are white. The jaguar has a short limb figure which makes it flexible to jump, crawl, and swim.

Their skulls are strong and their jaws are very robust.

The lion is a well-built feline with a long torso, big head, and short yet strong legs.

Their sizes and exterior vary depending on their gender. A fully grown male weighs 370–500 pounds. It measures around 6–7 feet long, not including the 3 feet tail, and stands approx. 3.5 – 4 feet high at the shoulder.

The lioness, is more compact, with a length of 5 feet, and a height of 3 – 3.5 feet at the shoulders, and weights at 260 – 400 pounds.

The male’s distinct feature is his majestic mane, which varied depending on the individual lion and the populations.

In some lions the mane and fringe are quite dark, nearly black, giving the feline a royal-like appearance.

Manes make the male lions appear even larger than they are and may also serve as attractants to appeal to prospective female mates.

The lion’s fur is thin and varies in color from tanned yellow to warm brown and sometimes ash brown, bearing a tuft on the nail edge that is typically darker than the rest of the fur.

Their Natural Range & Habitat

Jaguar’s current reach expands from Mexico to S.America, but it’s highly segmented.

This implies that jaguar groups have broad distances among them where no jaguar groups are located.

This scattered range stops jaguar populations from mating with one another, and controls genetic variance.

The jaguar is typically located in tropical forests and swamps, but at the northern end of its area, it is found in scrub spots and even deserts.

The jaguar still occupies mainly the Amazon area, but has nearly gone extinct in the drier areas.

Wherever jaguars are found, they need access to freshwater as the big cat is a great swimmer.

Lions, on the other hand, prefer to reside in savannas and drier areas close to water bodies e.g. lakes and rivers.

They also tend to hunt in exposed regions, rather than richly packed tropical forests.

Lions are not present in any rainforest regions within or near their scope.

African lions come in various subspecies isolated by big lion-absent ranges.

In the past, lions could be spotted across the main African region; however, their existing habitat has been limited to a few scattered locations in S. and Central S. Africa.

Beyond Africa and during ancient times, lions used to live from Greece to India. However, the human factor has gradually wiped out their populations.

Nowadays, only a small group of Asian lions is found in the Gir National Park of W. India.

Their Diet & Hunting Methods

Jaguars and all felines of their kind are strictly carnivores, which means that they can survive and be healthy only if they eat raw flesh.

Jaguars are believed to hunt 87 different animal types and are very opportunistic predators.

Some of their prey include caimans, small deers, dogs, capybaras, tapirs, armadillos, frogs, fish, monkeys, and birds.

To catch their prey, jaguars use a stealth and ambush method instead of chasing them down.

Jaguars will sense and listen to their prey moving and stalk it until they are near enough to attack and kill the animal.

They often bite their victims on the throat to suffocate them or they will tear apart their spine to paralyze a stronger animal before killing it.

Sometimes while hunting, jaguars will use a special killing tactic which is unlike any other feline hunting method.

The jaguars will utilize their robust jaws to bite and wound the skull of their prey, killing them by tearing the brain inside.

Once they kill their prey, they will drag it with their mouths to a more isolated spot to eat it.

Lions are considered hypercarnivores which means that at least 70% of their diet is meat.

African lions tend to hunt big ungulate species such as buffalos, zebras, gazelles, gemsbok, and wildebeest.

They tend to avoid very bulky and thick-skinned animals such as rhinos, elephants or very small animals like monkeys and dik-diks, but will occasionally attack farm animals.

A single lion can kill prey that is double its size.

In prides, female lions hunt together, stalking from various directions to reach escaping animals.

Lions usually kill by suffocating their prey or by grasping the animal’s mouth and nostrils.

Unlike jaguars, they usually don’t drag their prey to another spot but eat it right at the killing spot.

In some cases, hyenas and crocodiles can steal their prey.

Their Behavior

Jaguars are awake and active near dusk and dawn times, although they may show activity during any time of the day.

They also prefer to sleep or rest during the mid-morning or afternoon hours.

Jaguars rest in shaded and densely planted spots, inside caves, or under big rock formations.

They also depend on water, particularly during the hot season when they seek relief from high temperatures.

Jaguars are mainly found isolated and alone except for the mating period, when male jaguars move along with females in their “heat” cycle.

Population count may reach one animal per 15 square kilometers in the top habitats.

Lions are mainly nocturnal I.e. they hunt at night.

Like most cat species, they also sleep and rest more than 20 hours daily.

They like to rest for various reasons such as to save their energy for hunting, lack of prey closely, or to avoid high heat.

During their resting periods, lions have plenty of opportunities to socialize, unlike jaguars who typically rest alone.

They join each other and sleep in small groups, playing and rubbing their heads together.

All these habits are great for strengthening their bonds.

So back to our main question, who would win if there was a fight between these two big cats?

We have to acknowledge that jaguars are more swift and efficient than lions.

A jaguar can almost kill anything that moves.

They are also so robust that even though they are smaller than tigers and lions, they have a stronger bite force than any other feline.

However, this is not a fair match.

Lions are much bigger and bulkier than jaguars. Even though the jaguar will strike fast and hard, in the end it will bow down before its bulky relative.

Hence, the final winner will be the royal lion…

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