Jaguar vs Mountain Lion: Who Would Win in a Fight?

Written by Kyle Glatz
Published: April 8, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/Patryk_Kosmider
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The largest, deadliest cats in the world comprise a group referred to as the big cats. These massive mammals are usually too busy killing their prey of choice to hunt each other. Two of the big cats that roam South America are the jaguar and the mountain lion. What would happen in a jaguar vs mountain fight? Today, we will explore various facets of these creatures and show you which animal is most likely to win!

Comparing a Jaguar and a Mountain Lion

Jaguars are faster than mountain lions.

A-Z-Animals.com

JaguarMountain Lion
SizeWeight: 126 – 300lbs
Length: 3.5ft- 5.5ft
Height: 2ft-2.5ft at the shoulder
Weight: 60lbs-198lbs
Length: 5ft-8ft
Height: 2ft-3ft at the shoulder
Speed–  50 mph– 30 mph
Defenses– Superior speed to everything in its range
– Can comfortably rest in trees to make up for lack of pack mentality
– Able to climb trees to avoid predators
– Capable swimmer
– High speed
– Large size
– Good senses
– Ability to hide and use fur as camouflage
Offensive Capabilities1,500 PSI bite power
-30 teeth
– 2-inch fangs
– Strong, sharp, short claws
– Powerful bite and long teeth
– Powerful biting force of 1311N, over 400 PSI
–  Moderately powerful jaws
–  2-inch-long canines
– 2.5-inch claws
Predatory Behavior– Ambush predator that can initialize attacks from trees  – Ambush predator that wraps its forelegs around prey and takes them to the ground
– Very quiet hunters that stalk potential prey before attacking

What Are Key Differences Between a Jaguar and a Mountain Lion?

Mountain lions lack the spotted fur of jaguars.

Unknown/Shutterstock.com

The most significant differences between a jaguar and a mountain lion are their size, speed, and bite force. Jaguars range in size from about 100lbs up to 300lbs, run at speeds of 50 mph, and bite with a bone-crushing 1,500 PSI. Mountain lions weigh up to 198lbs, reach 30 mph at top speed, and only bite with a force of about 400 PSI.

The size and power differences between these animals will have a major impact on the outcome of the winner. Yet, we can’t always guarantee victory for the bigger, stronger animal. Instead, we’re going to look closer at these animals to show you the most likely outcome of this battle.

What Are the Key Factors in a Fight Between a Jaguar and a Mountain Lion?

jaguar-eating-its-prey
Jaguars have an immensely powerful bite.

iStock.com/Steven Anderton

Size, speed, power, offensive style, and defenses are the most important factors in a battle between a jaguar and a mountain lion. Only by looking at each of these elements can we quantify the advantages that one animal has over the other.

That process is exactly what we’re going to do. We’ll compare each animal, determine who has the edge in a category, and then examine all the data to determine the winner at the end.

Jaguar vs Mountain Lion: Size

Jaguars are larger than mountain lions. On average, a jaguar will grow between 126 and 300lbs, measure up to 5.5ft long, and stand about 2-2.5ft at the shoulder. Mountain lions weigh up to 130lbs on average, but they can measure up to 8ft and stand up to 3ft tall.

The largest jaguar ever recorded weighed about 328lbs, and the largest mountain lion weighed about 275lbs.

Jaguars get the size advantage for sheer muscle mass, but they can be shorter than mountain lions.

Jaguar vs Mountain Lion: Speed and Movement

On average, jaguars are faster than mountain lions. A mountain lion will max out its top speed around 30 mph or slightly over, but some believe it can reach 50 mph. Jaguars have been recorded at 50 mph.

Jaguars have the speed advantage over mountain lions.

Jaguar vs Mountain Lion: Defenses

Jaguars and mountain lions each have good physical defenses starting with their speed. Both animals can outrun just about anything else in the area. Jaguars spend a fair amount of time in trees, and they can swim as well.

The jaguar’s ability to hide in trees helps make up for its solitary lifestyle, something that mountain lions also do, but less frequently. Mountain lions are less likely to spend time in the water, too.

Jaguars and mountain lions have similar defenses, so neither has an advantage.

Jaguar vs Mountain Lion: Offensive Capabilities

Both big cats prefer to pounce on their prey and kill it with a swift bite. Some translations of the jaguar’s name refer to it killing prey with a single leap, and that does align with the animal’s preferred method of killing.

Jaguars have 30 teeth that measure about 2 inches long, and they have jaws that facilitate up to 1,500PSI biting power. These animals also have short, sharp, and strong claws to help them attack prey.

Mountain lions have a relatively weak bite force of 400PSI or so, more than enough to kill most of their prey. They have 2.5-inch claws and 2-inch teeth. They use these attacking tools in conjunction by leaping at, wrapping up, and tacking their prey while delivering fatal bites to the throat, head, or neck.

The jaguar is the more capable fighter of the two animals.

Jaguar vs Mountain Lion: Predator Behavior

Mountain lions are ambush predators that prefer to quietly sneak up on their foes before attacking. When they find something worth killing, they’ll charge at the prey at full speed and use all their power to bring it down. They often wrap their forelegs around their prey as they bring it down.

Jaguars are also ambush predators, but their approach is slightly different. They will wait in cover instead of chasing their prey. Once the prey gets close enough, the jaguar will jump out, sometimes from cover and other times from trees. They also prefer to bite at the neck to disable and kill their prey.

Both animals are capable ambush predators.

Who Would Win in a Fight Between a Jaguar and a Mountain Lion?

Types of Jaguar cats - leopard
Jaguars are known for attacking from trees and other blind spots.

iStock.com/lightstock

A jaguar would win a fight against a mountain lion. This fight is going to end with one big cat wrapping its mouth around the other’s neck. Jaguars are larger and more powerful on average, have a speed advantage, know how to attack from cover, and have a far more powerful bite.

When you add all those factors together, it’s clear that the jaguar is going to win. It will either attack the mountain lion from cover and secure a quick victory, or it will turn into a long, loud brawl with each animal chomping the other.

Either way, the massive biting power of the jaguar is going to decide this fight.

Strongest cats - Jaguar
Jaguar in wildlife park of Yucatan in Mexico. The jaguar is one of the strongest wild cats in terms of its jaws, with a bite so powerful it can break turtle shells.
iStock.com/Patryk_Kosmider
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About the Author

I'm a freelance writer with 8 years of experience. I've written in a variety of niches such as video games, animals, and managed service providers. I graduated from Rowan University in 2014 with degrees in English and Education. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games, reading, and writing for fun.

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