The Pro-Carnivoros project has a wide variety of carnivorous mammals in the Cerrado to study, as there are many different species of felines, canines and mesopredators that inhabitat this region and the Pantanal.
At least five types of small-to-medium sized cats can be found there. Resident spotted-cats like "jaguatirica" (ocelot), "gato do mato" (little spotted cat – or oncilla) and "gato maracaja mirim peludo" (margay) all resemble large house cats with leopard or jaguar-like markings. The "gato mourisco" (jaguarundi) is a medium sized cat, with a very long tail, and can range in color from chestnut to blackish-gray. This cat is significantly less nocturnal than most felines, and can easily be mistaken for an otter or weasel from a distance. Lastly, the "gatos dos pampas" (pampas cat) has the greatest variety of habitat to choose from of any South American cat – it can be found in swamps, tropical forests, grasslands and even mountains.
The large cats of the region include "onca pintada" (jaguar) and "sucurana" (mountain lion, or puma). Jaguars are part of the family Panthera, which also includes four other species of big cats: lions, tigers, leopards and snow leopards. Jaguars climb very well and are almost as arboreal as the leopard, but hunt primarily on the ground. Peccaries and capybaras make up a large part of their diet.
The terms mountain lion, puma, cougar and panther are used interchangeably when referring to Felis concolor. Pumas hunt primarily on the ground but they are also extremely good jumpers, able to leap up to 5.5 meters.
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There are several members of the dog family found in the Cerrado – the most well-known of which is the "lobo-guara" (maned wolf). Maned wolves resemble red wolves on stilts. Their long legs help them see above the long grass aiding them in hunting and helping them move through swamps and other difficult terrain. They are named for the erectile mane on the back of their neck and top of their shoulders.
The other resident canine populations are "cachorros vinagre" (bush dogs) and "cachorros do mato" (crab-eating foxes). Bush-dogs are stocky mammals with broad, flat snouts and short legs. Their average shoulder height is only 300mm. These diurnal canines are highly social and live in packs of up to ten.
Crab-eating foxes are territorial canines. Although their tolerance for neighbors rises in the wet season, aggression increases when the water recedes. These foxes mate for life and pairs will travel together but do not hunt cooperatively.
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Smaller carnivores in the Cerrado include "irara" (tayra) and "furao" (grison) – both members of the same taxonomic family as weasels, skunks and otters. While tayra can be identified by the yellow or white spot on its chest, grison are known by a white stripe across their forehead and running down their neck that separates their black face and underparts from their lighter-colored back.
"Quati" (coatimundi) can also be found in the region. There are two species of coatimundi – they both forage on the ground and in trees and are exclusively frugivorous if enough fruit is present. If they cannot get enough fruit, their diet broadens to include invertebrates, and large males will sometimes eat small to medium sized animals.
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