Are There Tigers In South America?

Are There Tigers In South America?

There are about 36 different species of wild cats, and the tiger is one of the most popular wild cats! Do these wild cats live in South America? Do any wild cats live in South America? 

Are There Tigers In South America?

There are no tigers in South America. In South America, tigers can only be found in zoos. Instead, tigers live only on the continent of Asia. At one point, tigers lived in every country in Asia, but today, their wild population has dropped by 97% in the past 100 years.

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Even though there are six different living subspecies of tigers (Bengal tiger, Indo-Chinese tiger, Malayan tiger, Siberian tiger, South China tiger, and the Sumatran tiger), they are all only found on the continent of Asia. 

Now, tigers can only be found in 13 countries. These are the following: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Russia, Thailand, and Vietnam. 

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What wild cats live in South America? 

Now that we know that there are no tigers, you may wonder if there are any other types of wild cats in South America. And there are! Actually, ten different wild cats call South America home. These cats are:  

  • The Andean Mountain Cat – This cat lives in high elevations of the Andes Mountains. They live in areas with steep slopes and little vegetation and they have spots and blotches that serve as camouflage in their mountain habitat. They are considered to be endangered because there are only about 2,500 Andean mountain cats left in the wild. 

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  • Cougar – The cougar, which is also known as the mountain lion, is one of the biggest wild cats to habitat the Americas. Cougars can live in all types of forests and even in deserts but they prefer a habitat with dense underbrush. This cat is the second largest New World cat and is a great climber, swimmer, and runner. 
Cougar, or mountain lion
Cougar, or mountain lion
  • Jaguarundi – The jaguarundi is found in South America east of the Andes Mountains. These cats, who are also known as the eyra cat, are also found in some regions of Central America, such as Mexico. They have a long body and tail, but fairly short legs, and unlike some of their big cat relative, jaguarundis have no stripes or spots.  
Jaguarundi
Jaguarundi
  • Geoffroy’s Cat – This cat is not very large – it is usually about the size of a typical domesticated cat. They are found in the central and southern regions of South America in mountains, scrublands, and grasslands. Even though they are small, they are considered to be an apex predator, meaning that they do not have any natural predators. 
  • Kodkod – The kodkod is the smallest wild cat that lives in the Americas. They rarely grow to be more than 20 inches in length! They can be found in the southern parts of Chile and Argentina in a wide variety of habitats. The kodkod has dark rings on their tales and is sadly considered to be endangered due to logging and farming. 

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  • Jaguar – Jaguars are the largest wild cat species found in the Americas. They range from the southwestern portion of the United States down to northern portions of Argentina and Paraguay in South America. They live in rainforests and wetlands. These giant cats can grow to be about three to six feet long and are the third-largest big cat in the world, only after tigers and lions.  
  • Margay – The margay lives in parts of Central and South America. They live in the northern part of South America to the east of the Andes Mountains. They are very elusive and solitary cats. The margay likes to hunt monkeys, lizards, birds, and tree frogs and likes to live in densely forested areas. 
Margay
Margay
  • Ocelot – The ocelot’s home range ranges from the southwestern United States to parts of South America. They can be found in habitats such as tropical forests, savannas, and swamps. Their fur can range from cream to gray to red and they have black colored marks that are like bands or stripes.  
  • Pampas cat – This small wild cat is also known as the colocolo or the Pantanal cat. While they can usually be found in higher elevations in South America, the Pampas cat can be found in lower altitudes in Argentina. In South America, they can be found in grasslands, shrublands, or dry forests. 
  • Oncilla – The oncilla can be found in parts of Brazil, Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador, especially in cloud forests. These cats are nocturnal in nature, but they will sometimes hunt during the day. They prey on rodents, birds, lizards, and frogs. These cats usually range from about 15 to 23 inches long.  
Oncilla
Oncilla

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Adrian Volenik

I've lived around animals my whole life and I hold a Diploma in Animal Physiology. When I'm not reading or writing about wild animals, health and fitness, and technology, you can find me playing with my son and two cats. My pastimes include running, playing video games, and solving the NY Times crossword.

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