How Strong Are Jaguars? [Bite Force & Strength Facts]

Jaguar, close-up shot
Francisco Ramirez / Flickr / CC BY NC ND 2.0

The largest big cats native to the Americas, jaguars are the kings of the Amazon jungle and the strongest big cats on Earth. Not only do they have a strong bite, but jaguars also have bulky bodies and strong muscles and bones that allow them to fight off large prey and even other apex predators. But how strong are jaguars?

With a bite force of 1,500 PSI and a paw swipe force of almost 500 pounds, jaguars are the strongest big cats in proportion to body size. They are about nine times stronger than humans. Their bite is about three times stronger than that of a lion and about one and a half times stronger than a tiger.

Jaguar strength facts overview:

  • Jaguar bite force: 1,500 PSI
  • Adult jaguar teeth size: 2 inches
  • Jaguar paw swipe force: 5,500 to 15,000 lb.-ft./s
  • Jaguar paw size: approximately 4×4.8 inches
  • Adult jaguar weight: 150 to 300 pounds

Jaguar Strength Profile

Jaguars are the strongest big cats in the world in proportion to body size. They have the strongest jaws, exerting a force of up to 1,500 pounds. This is strong enough to crush a human skull with a single bite. However, they are smaller than tigers and lions, meaning that even jaguars wouldn’t actually stand a chance in front of their cousins. 

In fact, jaguar males only reach an average length of about six to seven feet. By comparison, adult lion and tiger males can grow over ten feet in length.

Adult jaguar males weigh about 220 pounds, on average. Even the largest jaguar ever recorded wasn’t much heavier – he only weighed 328 pounds. African lions can weigh up to 550 pounds, whereas tiger males often weigh over 650 pounds.

It is obvious that the actual strength of a jaguar depends on its size and weight. Like most big cats, jaguars are sexually dimorphic, with the males being larger and stronger than the females.

See also  Do Sharks Attack Boats? [Some Of Them - Here’s Why!]

The table below compares the size, weight, and strength differences between a jaguar male vs. female:

Average length5.3 – 7.9 feet3.7 – 6.1 feet
Average weight150 - 300 lbs.110 - 175 lbs.
Paw swipe force7,500 - 15,000 lb.-ft./s5,500 – 8,750 lb.-ft./s

Note: The swipe forces above are calculated based on the average lower and higher weight of male and female jaguars, respectively, and the top speed of 50 miles per hour. It should also be noted that there are 34 jaguar subpopulations throughout the Americas. Jaguars in Venezuela and Brazil are generally larger than those on the Pacific coast of Central Mexico. The weight limits above are calculated considering all jaguar species.

How Strong Are Jaguars Jaws?

Jaguars are often defined as the strongest big cats in proportion to body size. However, their actual bite force is the most powerful among all other cat species – about 1,500 PSI. This is almost three times the bite force of a lion, which is only 650 PSI.

An average jaguar weighing 220 pounds has a bite force of 1556 PSI. Larger jaguars can have an even stronger jaw force, and most jaguars have a stronger bite compared to lions and tigers, but also other strong animals such as grizzly or polar bears.

While the jaw force alone might not inflict too much damage, jaguars also have long and sharp teeth of about two inches in length. Although their fangs are not as long as a lion’s, they are still sharp and long enough to tear flesh off the bones with a single bite.

Their powerful jaws and sharp teeth allow jaguars to pierce effortlessly through thick crocodile skins and even turtle shells – an ability that makes it easy for jaguars to feed on mostly any other animal when they are starved.

How Much Can A Jaguar Lift?

In addition to powerful jaws, jaguars have strong muscles that allow them to lift 700 pounds or more. These big cats also have a powerful strike of almost 500 pounds of force (15,000 lb.-ft./s). This is enough force to crush bones or break a skull with a single swipe.

See also  Do Jaguars Eat Snakes? [Diet & Habits Explained]

While there are few scientific studies on a jaguar’s lift force, these predators are known for going after large prey, such as tapirs.

Tapirs are large mammals weighing between 500 and 800 pounds, on average. Even the smallest adult tapirs are heavier than most jaguars. Yet, jaguars not only have the strength to kill them, but they can actually drag them around and even lift their carcasses up a tree. Thus, we can safely say that jaguars can lift at least 700-800 pounds over their heads.

Why Are Jaguars So Strong?

Like all big cats, jaguars are so strong thanks to their evolution into apex predators and adaptation to the environment. 

Jaguars have been around for about three million years, surviving the Ice Age and evolving into the powerful predators we know today. Their strength is linked to the prey choice available back then.

In fact, jaguars evolved in ecosystems with a higher prey diversity than found today. Many of these species were large herbivores, weighing over 90 pounds, and jaguars had to be strong enough to kill and feed on them.

However, scientists believe that jaguars managed to survive this long thanks to their flexibility and ability to shift their diets rather than the ability to kill large herbivores.

While jaguars can and will hunt anything and everything when starved, they don’t deliberately do so. They rarely touch primates (including humans) and large prey like bears or tapirs. Instead, they mostly feed on wild pigs, giant anteaters, caimans, and capybaras.

All these animals are much smaller than what a jaguar could actually handle, and this preference could be the key to their survival where many other species perished.

Unlike other big cats that choose prey almost exclusively based on their body mass, jaguars choose their prey based on abundance, herd size, and their preferred weight range. By choosing smaller prey, jaguars can reduce the hunting effort and increase their chances of success during the hunt. Thus, their chances of survival.

See also  Do Otters Lay Eggs? No! (Here’s What They Do)

That said, due to deforestation, illegal hunting, and loss of wild prey, jaguars are now listed as nearly threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

How Strong Is A Jaguar Compared To A Human?

Jaguars are four to nine times stronger than humans. Not only do they have a more powerful bite, but jaguars are also heavier and faster than the average human. Thus, they have a more powerful strike and greater lift force.

Numbers can make it easier to understand how strong jaguars truly are. We already mentioned that jaguars have a bite force of about 1,500 PSI. Comparatively, humans can only muster about 162 PSI.

Running at speeds up to 50 miles per hour, the average jaguar has a strike force of about 500 pounds. Untrained humans have a strike force of under 150 pounds and a punch force that rarely exceeds 300 pounds.

When it comes to the lifting force, jaguars can lift over 700 pounds. A fit yet untrained man can only lift up to 175 pounds, and most people struggle with much lighter loads. In a one-on-one with a jaguar, an unarmed man wouldn’t stand a chance.

Are Jaguars The Strongest Cats?

Yes, jaguars are the strongest cats. Their bite force is one of the strongest in the mammal kingdom and the strongest among all cats. Jaguars also have bulkier and stronger bodies in proportion to their body size.

However, they are not the biggest cats. Lions and tigers are bigger than jaguars and can run at similar speeds. Thus, their strike force is higher than the strike force of a jaguar.

Not only do lions and tigers have larger bodies, but they also have wider mouths, longer teeth, and larger paws and claws.

These elements make all the difference in a fight, shifting the odds in favor of lions and tigers. In fact, in a one-on-one with a lion or a tiger, the jaguar would likely lose despite being technically stronger than its opponent.

Learn More About Jaguars:

  1. Can Jaguars Climb Trees?
  2. Do Jaguars Hibernate or Migrate?
  3. Do Jaguars Eat Snakes?
  4. Do Jaguars Eat Crocodiles?

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.

Recent Posts