Panther and Jaguar are two different members of the cat family. Both of them are large cats and have the same food that is meat. They are often distinguished from each other in terms of the colour of their body- Panthers being black in colour and Jaguars having spots. Sometimes, they are considered as the same. Interestingly, none of these statements are completely wrong but there is more to this than meets the eye.
Panther vs Jaguar
The main difference between Panther and Jaguar is that Panther is the broader term used to refer to any big cat. It is the name of a genus and not species. Jaguar, on the other hand, is a panther with black spots on its body and mainly found in the tropical rainforests of Central and South America.
A Jaguar is a big cat found mainly in Central and South America. After tigers and lions, it ranks third in terms of body size and looks similar to that of Leopards found in Asia and Africa.
Panther, on the other hand, is the name of the genus used to describe any member of the family of big cats. It may be a tiger, a leopard, a mountain lion or even a Jaguar. However, the term Panther is also used to refer to Black Panthers and White Panthers.
Comparison Table Between Panther and Jaguar (in Tabular Form)
|Parameter of Comparison||Panther||Jaguar|
|Definition||It refers to a genus of the Felidae family.||It refers to a species of the Felidae family.|
|Native to||The Americas, Asia and Africa.||Mainly South America and a smaller population in Central America.|
|Maximum weight||Ranges up to 330 kgs||Ranges up to 100 kgs.|
|Colour pattern||Ranges from dark brown to black colour.||Ranges from tawny yellow to reddish-brown colour.|
|Lifespan||12 to 17 years.||12 to 15 years.|
What is Panther?
It is the general term used to describe any feline with black pigments viz leopards, cougars, jaguars, tigers or mountain lions belonging to the big cat family. However, it is commonly used to refer to the Black Panther. It is found in three continents, namely, Africa, Asia and the Americas.
The Panther is a very powerful and shifty member of the big cat family. As evident from its diverse geographical origin, it is very adaptive too.
Despite belonging to a taxonomic category that ranks higher than a species, it is often regarded as endangered because of the declining numbers of the Jaguars and Leopards in their native habitats.
The body colour of the Panther ranges from dark brown to black except for the White and the Florida Panthers, both of them found in North America.
The most striking feature of Panthers that distinguishes them from other felines of the cat family is their ability to roar. Their height and weight differ in terms of their species and sex. Some of them, especially males can reach even 250 kilogrammes.
Panthers are very intelligent and guarded animals. They lead a very solitary life, spending the night-time hunting and daytime resting. Their dark brown or black fur helps them in blending into the forest surroundings and makes them imperceptible to the naked eye in the darkness of the woodlands. This, in turn, enables them to detect and trap their prey without being noticed. The fact that they are excellent climbers is an added advantage.
When Panthers are born, they don’t open their eyes until they have completed two weeks. Before the completion of a few months, they remain extremely vulnerable to meat-eaters, especially in the absence of their mothers who have to go for a hunt.
After a few months, they become capable enough to accompany their mothers to search for prey and don’t leave her side until they have reached the age of 2 years. After that, they separate themselves to establish their territory.
Panthers, especially males are very territorial animals and are threatened by the presence of other males in their territory.
What is Jaguar?
It refers to a species of the big cat family, mainly found in the Americas. It is also the only feline of Panthera genus indigenous to the Americas and is the third biggest among the felines found in the whole world (others being tiger and lion).
In terms of appearance, they are very much similar to Leopards (found in Asia and Africa) but the spots found in the Jaguars’ body are more complex and a spot is often found in their centre. They are agile and powerful and like any other cat of Panthera genus, lead a solitary and nocturnal lifestyle.
In several ancient South American cultures, Jaguars were revered as gods and their representations appeared in the art and archaeology of the expanse of their natural habitat which originally ranges from Central Argentina to the South-Western region of the United States of America.
However, since the 1880s, they have lost much of their territory due to the process of industrialization and urbanisation. At present, they are mainly found in the tropical rainforests of the Amazon Basin. However, a smaller population of the Jaguars is also found in the savannahs and grasslands of the Central American region.
What distinguishes Jaguars from other cats is their ability to swim. As swimmers, they are quite good and prey on turtles, fishes and even caimans with their powerful jaws which help them in penetrating the skulls of their prey. They also like to have peccaries, deer, tapirs, capybaras and several other terrestrial animals by trapping them at night.
Like any other panther, Jaguars are also very territorial. They are born blind and remain vulnerable to meat-eaters until they become capable enough to accompany their mothers for hunt. Their mothers guard them at night and protect them any approaching animal including their fathers. They separate from their mothers after two or more years.
Main Differences Between Panther and Jaguar
- Both Panther and Jaguar are a part of the cat family. But the former is a genus while the latter is a species.
- Jaguars are indigenous only to the Central and South Americas. Whereas, Panthers live in a variety of natural habitats found in three major continents of the world viz Africa, Asia and the Americas.
- Panthers vary in terms of their weight. Some of them even reach 330 kilogrammes. Jaguars, on the other hand, do not the limit of 100 kilogrammes.
- Depending on their species, Panthers assume different colour patterns and appearances, ranging from dark brown to black colour. Whereas, Jaguars are primarily of tawny yellow colour which can range up to reddish-brown colour.
- The life-span of Panthers also differs in terms of their species. The minimum-maximum limit of the life-span of a Panther is 12 to 17 years. While, a Jaguar lives for 12-15 years.
Both Panther and Jaguar is a member of the cat family. But what distinguishes Panther from Jaguar is that a Panther is not a separate species. Rather it is a genus. Consequently, Jaguars posit the general characteristics expected in a species of Panthera genus.
It follows that a Jaguar can be described as a type of Panther but Panther cannot be described as a type of Jaguar.