The Cougar (Puma Concolor) is a creature of many names being known as Puma, Mountain Lion, Catamount, and Deer Tiger, to name just a few. Although one species, the United States separates the large cat into three groups – the Cougar, the Florida Panther, and the Eastern Cougar. The Florida Panther and Eastern Cougar are critically endangered and given protection under the Endangered Species Act. Cougars that inhabit the western part of the United States and Canada are allowed to be hunted (except in California).
The cougar is the second largest of the New World cats (averaging between 100 - 220lbs, 5 - 9ft in length), smaller only to the Jaguar. Cougars have the largest habitat of any other wild animal in the Americas, stretching their range from the Canadian Yukon province in the north to the Peruvian Andes in the south. This is primarily due to the cougars ability to adapt itself into many and varied environments. Although showing a preference for canyons and dense brush, cougars can be found in desert climates and wetlands, including the Everglades.
The cougar is a solitary hunter and not happy to share its territory with others of its kind. Male cougars will overlap hunting ground with sexually mature females but other male cougars are forcefully ejected. The cougar will kill bobcats, lynx and coyotes that seem to threaten the available prey populations. A cougar will even take on a lone wolf, but are especially uncomfortable sharing habitat with wolf packs. Although a strong, dominant predator in its own right, cougars seem to understand the idea of power in numbers and so will seek a new range when confronted by a pack.
The cougar is an apex predator whose strong jaws, large claws and exemplary stalking abilities make its preferred prey some of the largest in America – elk, deer and moose. When forced to, by weather or scarcity, the cougar will take smaller prey. The female cougar will also teach her young on smaller prey, allowing them to hunt with her from when they are 6 months old to about the age of 1 for males, 2 for females, when the kits leave to find their own territory.
Fun Cougar Facts
- According to the most recent census, there are only 87 Florida Panthers left living in the wild.
- Cougars are the largest cat that can purr.v
- Cougars can leap 16 feet straight up and 45 feet across. That means a Cougar can jump over a school bus – the long way.
- The ancient Incan city of Cusco was designed in the shape of a Cougar.
- Cougars generally feed just once or twice a week.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Cougar, Puma, Mountain Lion