To understand jaguars, researchers looked to their poop

Analyzing scat revealed what and where the cryptic cats hunted

Jaguars are notoriously cryptic, but by finding their scat, researchers were able to unlock some of their mysteries.

In a study published in the European Journal of Wildlife Research, biologists used genetic and isotopic analyses to investigate the habitat needs of jaguars (Panthera onca) in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Preserve in Belize. Using scent detection dogs, they tracked down jaguar scat and analyzed it to see where the wide-ranging jaguars hunted.

“You might never see the animal, but you can determine what it ate and where it ate it,” lead author Brooke Crowley told the University of Cincinnati.

Read more from the University of Cincinnati.

For more on noninvasive techniques in wildlife research, check out the latest issue of The Wildlife Professional.

Header Image: A jaguar appears on a camera trap image in Belize. Credit: Belize Jaguar Team/Virginia Tech