Monday, July 30, 2012

Reader Submission: Jaguarundi Sighting In Southern Illinois


I received the following report today (Monday, July 30th) from Ben Peveler:

Yesterday, July 29th, 2012, myself and my friend Amanda were driving on the backroads between Du Quoin, Illinois and Pinckneyville, Illinois in Perry County. We were traveling north on Whitetail Road, about 200 yards before the intersection of Galum Church Road. When at, 12:56 p.m., this creature weighing between 30 to 40 pounds and standing about 3 foot tall crossed the road in front of us. I got a better look at the body, and Amanda got a better look at the head. The body was long and slender with a long curved cat like tail. The creature was higher in the rear and lower in the front. Amanda described the face as looking at lot like that of a weasel. It had a protruded snout, not a flat face like a feline would have. And it also seemed to hop across the road than running.

I have grown up my entire life in the woods, hills, and swamps of southern Illinois and western Kentucky. And I have never seen this creature before. I am also a cryptozoologist with several years of experience and research to my credit. Also I am the Director of the Illinois Chapter of the North American Fortean Society. So I am use to taking reports of many different kinds of cryptid creatures. But this one had me stumped!

When the initial shock of the sighting wore off, I made a phone call to my good friend Jc Johnson at 1:04 p.m. to see if he could help me identify what we had just saw. He was initially at a loss for what this could be, but assured me by the time I got home he would do some research and have a picture that resembled the creature we saw. Sure enough, when I arrived home, he had a picture of this creature called the Jaguarundi. That was what it was. Dale Drinnon also confirmed to me he had another report of one of these creatures being sighted in Illinois. I pulled up a YouTube video of the Jaguarundi, and sure enough, that was the exact creature we saw. No doubt in my mind at all. Ben Pelever

NOTE: Ben can be contacted about other strange and anomalous sightings in Illinois at bmgsharpshooter@yahoo.com



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Jaguarundi

Common Name: Jaguarundi

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata (Vertebrata)

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Felidae

Genus: Felinae (Felis)

Species: yaguarondi

Sub Species: (herpailurus yaguarondi fossata) Guatemalan Jaguarundi
(H.y. cacomitli) gulf coast jaguarundi (H.y. panamensis) Panamanian jaguarundi (H.y. toleteca) Sinaloan jaguarundi

Misc.: While Jaguarundis are not native to the south-eastern United States, it is believed that a feral population exists in Florida, established from an introduced population of escaped pets in the 1940’s. They were reported to be quite easy to “tame” by early Central American natives, and were used to control rodent populations around villages. Today, it is not recommended to keep these or any other wild animal, as pets.

Size and Appearance: this cat is unique in its appearance among the felids in that it more closely resembles a weasel. They have slender, elongated bodies, short legs, a small flattened head, long “otter-like” tail, and a sleek, unmarked coat. Adults can weigh as little as 6 pounds or as much as 20. They stand 10-14 inches at the shoulder, and reach a length of 35-55 inches. Coats occur in 3 main color variations: black, brownish-grey, or red. Any or all colors can occur in a single litter, but generally the darker colors are usually found in the rain forest, while the paler color is found in the drier environments. The red color was once considered a separate species – F. eyra.

Habitat: A cat of the lowlands, not generally found above 6500 ft., Jaguarundis occupy a wide range of both open and closed habitats – from dry scrub, swamp and savannah woodland to primary forest. The factor used to determine habitat suitability is access to dense ground vegetation. Of all of the New World felines, Jaguarundis are the most adaptable in its ability to occupy diverse environments.

Distribution: Northern Mexico, Central and South America, Texas and possibly Florida.

Social System and Communication: Jaguarundis are known to be solitary or travel and forage in pairs. They have a wide variety of vocalizations, with 13 distinct calls having been documented.

Hunting and Diet: Their primary diet is quite varied and is comprised of small rodents, rabbits, armadillos, opossums, quail, wild turkey, reptiles, frogs, fish and domestic poultry. They have also been recorded eating fish stranded in puddles. - Wild Cats of the World


NOTE: I have no doubt that Ben observed a Jaguarundi. It is likely that it was an escaped pet...but I suppose it could have migrated north into southern Illinois. Since there had been a previous sighting in the area I wonder if a breeding population may have been established. I want to thank Ben for the report...Lon

Jaguarundi: Otter Cat (America's Hidden Animal Treasures)

Small Wild Cats: The Animal Answer Guide (The Animal Answer Guides: Q&A for the Curious Naturalist)

The Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids (Oxford Biology)
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