Description, Habitat and Endangered Species Status of the World's Five Largest Cats
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Description, Habitat and Endangered Species Status of the World's Five Largest Cats

This article lists the five largest cats in the world in order according to weight. A physical description is included as well as information on lifespan, a description of habitat, and the endangered species status of each big cat.

From the regal  tiger to the sleek and swift jaguar, the five largest cats in the world vary greatly in weight, lifespan and habitat. But what they all share in common is that big cats are becoming increasingly endangered due to hunting and the destruction of their natural habitat.

umatraanse Tiger-Wiki Commons

The Tiger-The Largest Member of the Cat Family

The tiger is the largest member of the cat family, though lions come so close they are often believed to be the biggest. The average tiger weighs around 573 to 600 pounds, or 300 kilograms. While the Bengal tiger is the most numerous of the subspecies, the Siberian tiger is the largest.  The biggest Siberian tiger ever captured weighed almost 900 pounds. The tiger is identified by a unique pattern of dark stripes. Tigers are native to Asia. They prefer dense, forrested areas. The lifespan of a tiger ranges between 10-15 years, though they may live a little longer in captivity.  Some subspecies of the tiger are already extinct, and the remaining six are considered endangered species.

The Lion-The Second Largest Living Cat

The second largest of the cats is the lion. The average lion weighs 496 pounds. but males may weigh up to 550 lbs or 250 kilograms. The lion is identified by its tawny color. Male lions have manes but females do not. Lions are found in the savannas and grasslands of Africa and Asia. Lions are social, and live in small groups called prides. The lifespan of a lion is between 10-14 years. Like the tiger, it may live longer, up to 20 years, in captivity. Currently, lions are not considered an endangered species, with the exception of the Asiatic lion. However, the past vew decades has seen a decline in lion population.

The Jaguar-The Third Biggest Cat

The jaguar is the largest cat found in the Western Hemisphere. The average jaguar weighs around 200 pounds. The jaguar is found in forests and rain forests in the southern United States, Mexico, Central and South America. It is often associated with the mythology of the Maya and Aztec cultures. With its typically spotted coat, the jaguar bears a physical similarity to the leopard. The average lifespan of a jaguar is twenty years.  The jaguar is a near threatened species and its numbers are declining.  Since the early 20th century, jaguar are rare in the U.S.

The Cougar or Puma-The Fouth Biggest Cat

The cougar, also often called puma, or mountain lion,or catamount, is a solitary cat who ranges from Canada to South America.  The cougar is tawny colored with black-tipped ears and tail. It is more closely related to the domestic cat than the lion. Male cougars normally weigh about 115 to 220 pounds, with an average weight of 148 pounds. The average lifespan of a cougar is eight to thirteen years. Cougars are found in rocky areas with dense underbrush.  Three of the over twenty subspecies of the cougar are currently endangered. Loss of habitat caused a near-extinction in the United States, but the cougar population is beginning to grow slightly in recent years.

 

The Leopard-The Fifth Biggest Cat 

The leopard is similar in appearance to the jaguar except it has fairly short legs and a long, lean body. Its fur is marked with smaller rosettes than those found on the jaguar. The average jaguar weighs about 132 pounds. It can run 58 km or 36 miles per hours.The leopard can be found in rain forests as well as desert terrains, from parts of Africa, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Indochina, Malaysia, and China. A near threatened species, it is declining in both range and population.

Sources:

The Wildlife Conservation Society

Earth's Endangered Creatures

Wikipedia

Photo Source: Wikipedia Commons

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