Nature never ceases to amaze. One moment a crocodile captures drowns, and swallows a jaguar whole. The next moment a jaguar sinks its canine teeth behind a croc and strangles it to death.
A widely shared video captures the latter scenario, but the croc species was likely a caiman or a baby croc. A fully grown crocodile is too strong for a jaguar and could easily stifle the life of the big cat.
Jaguars Love Hunting Caimans
Caimans are a favorite meal for jaguars, especially during the dry season when ant eaters, marsh deer, and red brocket deer are hard to come by.
Unlike these other food sources that often migrate in search of food, the caimans spend much of their time in the water. However, they occasionally come out to bask in their numbers, providing jaguars and other predators with a great hunting opportunity.
Basking caimans are like the big cat’s supermarket. It only has to select its meal of the day from the group and pounce.
Jaguars hunt caimans by stalking, ambushing, piercing their skulls, and using their long canine teeth to kill them. The jaguar then drags the caiman out of the water and into the thicket, where it can enjoy its meal in peace.
As the video shows, jaguars are powerful cats. Its incredible jaw and upper body strength enable it to pull heavy prey like the caiman out of water.
The caiman in the video seems heavier than the jaguar, yet the latter drags it out of the water effortlessly.
The caiman does not always make an easy meal, especially in water.
The jaguar may launch a surprise attack, but the caiman, like other crocs, is armed with many teeth and a deadly bite force.
The caiman has about 72 to 76 teeth and a bite force of over 3000 psi. Meanwhile, the jaguar has 30 teeth and a bite force of 1,500 psi. So the jaguar’s wrong move could easily make the hunter the hunted.
The jaguar wins this fight most of the time because of strategy. First, it ensures it stays behind the caiman and delivers a chokehold behind its skull or head.
The Jaguar’s Hunting Strategy
The jaguar in the video captures its prey in broad daylight. But it is a traditional night stalker and hunter. The jaguar has impressive night vision that improves when light reduces, allowing it to pounce on its unsuspecting prey.
Hunting in darkness allows the jaguar to avoid overheating. Unfortunately, their thick fur coats make the heat a big problem for big cats in tropical climates.
Unlike many cat species, jaguars are great swimmers who will not mind getting their paws wet in pursuit of a delicious meal like the caiman.
The jaguar’s most efficient hunting technique is approaching its prey from above. It climbs trees and can quietly wait for prey to wander below. The elevated position ensures it does not rustle leaves and scare its meal. Its scent is also less detectable from the elevated position.