Two powerful cats. One epic battle. Who would win?
It’s fun to debate potential skirmishes between different animals based on a number of different attributes from size to hunting skills to determine which would come out on top in a fight.
While there are a lot of different situations which could lead to one contender having an advantage which could change the outcome of the battle, there is often enough information to make a pretty good guess as to who would come out on top most of the time.
The jaguar is a ferocious predator who has a variety of skills that make him a successful apex predator, while the tiger is a powerful beast in its own right and employs a different set of abilities when engaging in combat.
Pitting these two felines against one another, we will analyze each cat to determine who would win in an inter-species battle to the death.
The cat’s lifestyle and habits can sometimes make a different when it comes to full-on warfare, so let’s take a moment to evaluate what daily life is like for these powerful beasts.
A skilled hunter who enjoys his solitude, Jaguar usually spends his days hunting small to mid-sized prey. This includes a wide variety of different fauna such as deer, squirrels, frogs, fish, iguanas, armadillos, monkeys, and similar creatures; he’s not particularly picky as long as he can get a decent meal.
When he has had his fill, he will often bury his meal so that he can return to it later for leftovers. He also isn’t afraid to snack on carrion he discovers.
His typical hunting period differs from most cats as he does not operate as often under the full cover of darkness, but prefers low-light conditions such as dawn or dusk.
He is a territorial creature, allowing several females in his range for mating purposes, but viciously keeping males away from his home range. He spends his resting time lounging about in the shade or in caves, but can also be found casually relaxing in a tree as well.
Similarly, the tiger also appreciates his alone time, and often marks his territory with urine, feces, scraping of trees and earth, and with his roar.
This serves as a warning to other tigers, who typically stay away because they enjoy their privacy, but can occasionally lead to brutal contests that can even result in death if a fellow tiger decides to press on and disregard warnings.
Hunting by night, he typically eats larger mammals such as deer or wild pigs, and there are even reports of occasional tiger attacks on buffalo or particularly bold attacks on elephants, but they usually avoid larger mammals unless they are sick or injured.
He also will take advantage of a free meal if he finds a carcass while stalking about in his territory and similarly to the jaguar, will preserve his meal for further eating if possible.
Tale of the Tape
|Weight||100 to 250 lb||200 – 680 lb|
|Length||5 – 6 feet (head and body)||up to 10 feet long (including tail)|
|Habitat||Amazon rainforest, Pantanal||rain forests, grasslands, savannas|
|Lifespan||12 to 15 years (in the wild)||8 – 10 years (in the wild)|
|Bite Force||1,500 PSI||1,050 PSI|
|Speed||50 miles per hour||30 – 40 mph (in short bursts)|
|Prey||Carnivores: fish, turtles, caimans, deer, peccaries, capybaras, and tapirs||Carnivore: moose, deer species, pigs, cows, horses, buffalos and goats|
Size and Weight
Now that we know a little about each warrior, it’s time to start the competition. Our first category is size and weight. Let’s find out which of our two large cats has the advantage here.
Jaguars can be up to six feet long (eight feet counting the tail!) and the larger specimens can weigh over 300 pounds. His body is sleek and muscular, although he is only the third largest cat species.
The largest cat species is actually our other competitor: the tiger. With the lion sandwiched between them size-wise, the Russian Siberian tiger can hit the scale at just under 1000 pounds in extreme circumstances! Most tigers average just under 700 pounds, which is still considerably more than our vicious jaguar.
He can also extend up to 12 feet, with a two or three foot tail in addition to that.
In this category, there’s no contest.
Being fast is another advantage in combat, whether that is through sheer running speed or being able to maneuver better than an opponent.
Both felines can run fast in short bursts.
The jaguar has very good speed and can reach up to 50 MPH. He is also agile and able to maneuver quickly around larger opponents.
While the tiger runs remarkably fast for his size, he tops out at 40 MPH in best case scenarios, which is considerably slower than the jaguar.
Take into account that his size makes it harder for him to maneuver in an engagement with the quick jaguar and he finds himself at a disadvantage.
Jaguar hunts a caiman
The weapons brought into battle can make all the difference. Sometimes it’s a matter of a single, well-honed method of finishing off an opponent and other times, it’s a matter of multiple types of weapons providing a versatility advantage.
Our jaguar is out for a decisive victory and his plan is to end any contest as quickly as possible. While he has claws, they are typically used for holding prey more than attacking, although they can certainly be used or such.
However, he has one major go-to for his attack and that is a powerful jaw. Pound for pound, the jaguar’s bite is the most powerful of any cat. His plan is to get those jaws on a skull as quickly as possible and crush it, usually resulting in an instant KO.
The tiger also uses his jaws as his primary means of attack, and the effects are just as devastating. While the jaguar’s bite is the most powerful for his weight, the tiger weighs considerably more. That means that while the power ratio for size is in the jaguar’s favor, the tiger’s overall bite is more powerful.
In other words, he’s bigger and so is his bite.
You’ve heard the expression “brains over brawn,” and in some cases, there is truth to that sentiment. A smarter creature can find a clever way to overcome a size advantage and claim victory. Let’s take a look at how intelligent our cats are in relation to one another.
The jaguar is typically considered an intelligent cat, as evidenced by its ability to learn and adapt while hunting. For example, the cat is known to patiently sit by the water, using its tail to tap the water as a lure to bring fish in before snatching them out of the water.
Likewise, the tiger learns hunting from its mother when a cub and has an uncanny ability to discern and target a creature’s weakness. They also have a larger brain, although that does not necessarily indicate a greater intelligence.
While this is a close race, the tiger’s ability to locate and exploit weaknesses gives it an advantage in this category, so that’s who we’re declaring the winner here.
Tiger hunts a boar
Hunting Skills/Instincts To Kill
These two are remarkably similar in how they hunt.
The jaguar stalks its prey carefully and exhibits extreme patience, sometimes waiting above in a tree for a meal to pass below before dropping down with its skull-crushing bite. It may also camouflage itself in the brush and wait until it gets close to its target before leaping out to put a quick end to the hunt.
The tiger’s modus operandi is much the same, minus the tree ambushing. He will quietly and cautiously circle his prey, slowly narrowing the range until within about 50 feet, then will wait to see if his intended meal will come closer. If not, he can leap about 30 feet with his powerful paws and so it’s a quick hop, skip, and jump to his meal.
He also tends to go for the quick kill, but rather than going for the skull, his favorite target is the back of the neck, where he can grip with his teeth to finish off his target. He may also go for the throat, depending on how large his prey is.
Either way, they are both ambush stalkers and go for a quick kill, so we’ll call it a draw.
It’s tough to find a weakness for either cat, as they are both adept swimmers and while they are not as adept at it as jaguars, tigers can climb trees if necessary.
The greater size is probably the greater advantage for the tiger, but on the other hand, it can sometimes serve as a weakness as the tiger can get impatient with an agile or clever opponent and may be prone to make errors in battle which can turn combat against him.
It’s probably too close to distinguish in isolation, so we’ll call this one a draw, too.
Final Verdict: Who Would Win In a Fight
It’s time for judgment. These two competitors have a lot of similarities and are both ferocious apex predators. However, each has advantages over the other when engaged in a one-on-one confrontation.
So who will come out on top?
The size differential is definitely greater for the tiger than a jaguar’s speed advantage. The difficulty in determining a winner comes in the chosen style of attack for these two predators. It’s rarely an instance of a straight-up fight, but rather a determination of who ambushes whom.
In a one-on-one free for all, the chances are greatly in favor of the tiger because of that size, although if the jaguar wants to get away, he probably can due to his improved ability to climb trees and to outrun the tiger.
Yet, if the jaguar feels threatened and lies in wait, from above in a tree, or unnoticed in the brush, he could potentially get that all-important first strike and do enough damage to the tiger’s skull or spine to debilitate it, especially considering that the lion’s maneuverability is not as great.
Yet, the same could be true if the tiger gets the first attack. In these situations, it may simply depend on who has the upper hand, but in most situations, the tiger is simply so large that he will more than likely overpower the jaguar and claim victory.