Do Jaguars Eat Snakes? [Diet & Habits Explained]

Photo: Poring Studio / Shutterstock

Jaguars are the largest big cats in South America. They live in swamps, tropical forests, and arid scrublands. All these places also constitute a habitat for various snake species.

What do the two do when they come across one another? 

Jaguars do eat snakes occasionally, as their habitats overlap, and jaguars are carnivores. They are also comfortable in the water where some snakes prefer to hunt. However, snakes are not the most common of prey. Jaguars prefer to eat larger mammals, including cattle. In rare cases, a large enough snake can eat a jaguar.

Where Are Jaguars And Snakes Found Together?

Jaguars live in a range that includes Mexico, Central, and South America. They used to live in the upper parts of North America as well.

However, they lost almost all of that range after migrating southward. While they sometimes inhabit scrublands and deserts, they prefer wooded areas and swamps.

There are over 3,000 species of snake all over the world. The only places where there are no known native snakes are parts of the Arctic Circle, the Antarctic, Ireland, Hawaii, Alaska, New Zealand, and Greenland.

Because they have such a wide variety of habitats, snakes can be found wherever there are jaguars. This includes the Amazon in South America.

The Amazon rainforest is home to the largest known jaguar population.

The rainforest also has a variety of snakes, including five species of boa. These are the boa constrictor, the emerald tree boa, the rainbow boa, the common tree boa, and the green anaconda.

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Each species has its own particular habitat, from rivers to trees. Young boa constrictors spend a large part of their time in trees. Other snakes like to hunt near river banks. The green anaconda spends most of its time in the water.

The jaguar is equally versatile. A jaguar is comfortable in both the trees and the water, unlike other cats.

Do Jaguars Eat Snakes?

Snakes can be part of a jaguar’s diet, but they’re not common. Jaguars prefer to eat peccaries, hogs, and deer. They will also eat cattle and even caimans in some instances.

Jaguars are capable of attacking humans, though it’s a very rare circumstance. When jaguars do attack, it’s usually for protection rather than food. Even so, this is often a fatal encounter for humans.

A jaguar is an ambush predator, preferring to hunt by stealth. While they do stray to the branches of trees for birds and monkeys, they tend to stay on the ground.

Their favorite area is the water; they most often make their home territory near rivers and streams. They’ll sometimes tap their tails over the water to draw fish to the surface.

For larger prey, jaguars use their powerful jaws to subdue their target. Proportional to their size, jaguars have the most powerful bite of the big cat species.

They’ll ambush their prey and bite their heads, piercing the skull with their teeth.

Can A Snake Eat A Jaguar?

Photo: Manoel Augusto / Shutterstock

The Amazon is home to the green anaconda, one of the largest snakes in the world. They can open their mouths up to three times larger than their heads, allowing them to swallow much larger prey.

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There are cases of anacondas eating caimans and even people (though this is very rare).

An anaconda can kill and eat a jaguar. Anacondas kill by biting their prey first and then wrapping their coils around the animal’s body. They then squeeze the prey to death.

Until recently, it was thought that constrictors, such as anacondas, kill by suffocation. Now it’s thought that death occurs because blood flow is cut off from the brain and other organs

When it comes to eating jaguars, large constrictors don’t show much interest. The most common prey of anacondas includes fish, birds, deer, and capybara, which can weigh up to 100 lbs. (45 kg).

Going after larger animals like jaguars (which can weigh over 200 lbs. or 90 kg) is known to happen, but an anaconda can suffer serious injury or death if it does so.

Animal experts do not consider anacondas a natural predator of jaguars. In fact, jaguars are “apex predators,” meaning they have no natural predators whatsoever.

In Summary

Jaguars and snakes are both animals with the strength to kill tough prey. A jaguar can use its powerful jaws to bite through hard shells and thick skin. For their part, large constrictor snakes can take down jaguars themselves.

Jaguars are just as capable of eating snakes as snakes are of eating jaguars. However, on both sides of the animal kingdom, this is not a common occurrence. Jaguars in particular prefer to eat birds and a variety of mammals instead of snakes.

Read More About Jaguars:

  1. Do Jaguars Eat Crocodiles?
  2. How Strong Are Jaguars?
  3. Can Jaguars Climb Trees?
  4. Do Jaguars Hibernate or Migrate?
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James Ball

James has had a lifelong passion for animals and nature, tracing back to his childhood where he first began fostering intimate knowledge and connection with pet frogs and snakes. He has since honed this interest into a career as a trained Wildlife Biologist, specializing in Biogeography, sustainability and conservation. In addition to his professional pursuits, James maintains an active lifestyle, regularly indulging in outdoor activities such as hiking, and musical pursuits like playing piano and swimming.

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