First Five Months
Jaguars (Panthera onca) are born blind, deaf and helpless. Usually, jaguars have only one cub at a time, but National Geographic reports jaguars can have as many as four. Only the mother takes care of the cub--any other jaguar is a threat and might kill and eat it. Jaguar mothers find a den--an underground burrow, under a thick patch of plants or a cleft in the rocks--to give birth. The mother vigorously defends her cubs. According to "Jaguars," she nurses them until they are between 3 and 5 months old, but she will regurgitate meat for them when they are about 2 weeks old so they can transition to solid food.
Even when she is not nursing them, jaguar mothers will still live with her cubs and hunt for them. Jaguars are not born knowing the skills they need in order to survive. They must be taught by their mother. These skills include hunting, stashing food, swimming, finding water holes, hiding from other jaguars and climbing trees. The jaguar mother first brings wounded prey back to the den for cubs to learn to subdue when they are about 6 months old.
By the time the cub is a year old, it is starting to go on hunts with its mother. It may begin to wander away but will find her again. A mother jaguar will continue living with, teaching and protecting her cubs until they are about 2 years old and then leave her. After staying in her territory for a couple of months, the cubs move on to find a territory of their own. The mother jaguar then goes back into season. She will only mate every 2 years in order to give her the energy to raise and teach her cubs.