A-z - Animals

cougar

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Cougar Infographic
Cougar Infographic

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"Big cats without roaring"

As the second largest cat species in North America, the cougar is a formidable animal. The puma cannot roar because it does not have the larynx it needs to roar. Instead, the big cat purrs, growls, hisses, squeals, and whistles and chirps.

Cougars are also known as mountain lions, panthers, and mountain lions. Cats have round heads, pointed ears, and elongated bodies.

Cougar Top Facts

Mountain lion staring at the camera
Cougars are master hunters and solitary animals

© Kwadrat/Shutterstock.com

• Cougars are excellent hunters



• Cougars are found in many parts of the world

• Cougars prey on animals such as deer, raccoons and even alligators

• Like most cats, cougars are solitary animals

You can check out more incredible facts about cougars.

scientific name

Mountain lion standing on thick branch
The puma's scientific name is " puma concolor " or "felis concolor". "

©Geoffrey Kuchera/Shutterstock.com

The puma's scientific name is "puma concolor " or " felis concolor". Carl Linnaeus came up with the name " felis concolor " to describe a big cat with a long tail. This animal has more names in the dictionary than any other animal. Along with mountain lions and pumas , this cat is also known as feline and red tiger etc.

Cougars belong to the cat subfamily. After Linnaeus' scientific description of the puma, researchers listed 32 zoological subspecies until the late 1980s. Based on genetic studies, many subspecies are too close together to be considered independent. Now, scientists have identified six phylogeographic groups.

appearance

Pumas are physically similar to domestic cats on a larger scale. The cougar's fur has a taupe to reddish hue, with the animal's underside being lighter in color. Cougars have black tail ends and cats have black markings on their ears and face.

An amazing fact about mountain lions is that they can jump 20 feet in the air. This enables them to pounce on prey as far as 20 to 40 feet from their standing position. Learn more about the world's highest jumping animal here.

Cougars range in length from 5 feet to 9 feet from head to tail, with males weighing up to 150 pounds and females around 100 pounds.

Cougar (Felis Concolor)

Behavior

cougar
Cougars only socialize when raising cubs

©Evgeniyqw/Shutterstock.com

Mountain lions are solitary animals, unless the mother cougar is raising her cubs. Sometimes, these animals share their prey with each other. They make their homes in small communities based on territories of strong male cougars. Cats living in these areas interact with each other more frequently than animals living outside of these areas.

Habitat

Cougars range from the northern Yukon Territory of Canada to the southern Andes.

©DaryaU/Shutterstock.com

These big cats are the most widespread of the American wildlife. You can find them from the northern Yukon Territory of Canada to the southern Andes. The animal is able to adapt to a variety of habitats, including forests, mountainous deserts, and lowland areas.

Cougars prefer to live in parts of the country where steep canyons, fringing rocks, and dense scrubland provide protection. However, they can survive well in open areas with little vegetation.

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Evolution and Origin

The oldest known fossil record finds that the puma evolved from a common ancestor of the African cheetah and the American leopard. Cougars actually originated in North America and are believed to have gone extinct during the Pleistocene extinction.

What do cougars eat?

what cougars eat
Cougar eats deer, birds, raccoons and rabbits

© AZ-Animals.com

These big cats are not picky about their diet. They will feed on insects, mice, beavers, raccoons, rabbits, and wild turkeys. Since cougars live in Patagonia's Monte León National Park, they have become quite adept at hunting penguins.

People who live in Florida sometimes cook with alligators. In North America, mountain lions often eat deer. In fact, they usually kill a large deer every two weeks. These big cats are not usually scavengers, but if a deer carcass is exposed, they may eat it, which means that the cats can sometimes display resourceful behavior.

Because of their powerful hind legs, cougars are ambush predators. They are hunters and will stalk their prey through bushes and trees before leaping powerfully on to them and fatally injuring them with a bite of the neck. The animal is capable of breaking the neck of its prey with one powerful bite and driving it to the ground.

predator

Human growth and population numbers are the mountain lion's biggest predators

© Everett Collection/Shutterstock.com

Humans are the largest predators of mountain lions, hunted for sport and for livestock protection. People are also a major cause of habitat loss for cats. In states like Florida, highways are often deadly to cougars.

In the wild, wolves will prey on cats because of their ability to surround the animal and outnumber it. When it comes to one-on-one fights, the Cougars usually survive the fight. Wolves are more likely to influence mountain lions by controlling the same area and taking advantage of prey opportunities. Wolves can also damage a cougar's ability to reproduce.

The feline is not on the endangered species list, but conservation groups are still unsure about the status of mountain lion populations around the world. In the United States, the only state that bans their hunting is California. However, hunting them is illegal in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Venezuela, Brazil and most of Argentina. To hunt the big cats in the United States, hunters must be licensed unless they live in Texas.

Poachers have targeted mountain lions, but the impact of this operation on the felines is unclear. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that the illegal animal parts trade is a $200 million annual market and growing.

About Cougar Breeding

Male and female cougars reach sexual maturity at 24 months, but according to research, female cougars mate by 20 months of age. The age at which a cougar first breeds usually depends on the home range she establishes. Because of their solitary lifestyle, mountain lions face a major breeding challenge in finding each other. These cats are often scattered over hundreds of miles of rough terrain.

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Another reproductive complication is that female cougars are only interested in mating for a few days a month. Despite the challenges, the animals have found a way to reproduce. They have keen senses and practice polygamy.

When cougars breed, they are very active by mating at a rate of 50 to 70 times in 24 hours in 7 to 8 days. Each time a couple mates, it lasts less than a minute. Because felines are so exuberant, researchers think this behavior stimulates ovulation, the release of eggs from the ovaries to fertilize them.

Cougar Cub

Once a female cougar becomes pregnant, after 88 to 96 days, she returns to her secluded den to give birth to a litter of cubs. Cougar litter sizes range from 1 to 6 cubs, with an average size of 2 to 3 kittens. A young female cougar may have only one cub in her first litter. The researchers believe this gives young women time to develop their maternal skills.

Cougars typically give birth every other year, which means that a female mountain lion that lives 8 to 10 years may have 5 litters of cubs. A captive female cougar reportedly gave birth to seven litters of cubs in 16 years.

Puma calves usually weigh a little over 1 pound at birth. They double their body weight in 10 to 20 days and can reach up to 9 pounds by 2 months of age.

When cougar cubs are born, their fur usually has black spots that camouflage them and protect the cubs from predators. These spots usually last about 6 months. The cubs are born deaf and blind and can barely move, making them vulnerable to predators. To gain strength and learn how to hunt prey, cougar cubs play and pounce on each other.

When the cubs are 7 to 8 weeks old, the lionesses start hunting them. The female also brings meat to her babies until they are weaned at 2 to 3 months of age. As the pups grow, the female will leave them at the killing site for several days at a time while hunting for their next meal. As the cubs get stronger, the mother cougar travels farther to find food.

Cougar Cub (Felis Concolor)

life

When a cougar is kept in captivity, the animal can live up to 20 years. However, there are reports of a captive cougar who lived to be 29 years old. In the wild, they live about half as long. Researchers are divided on which sex lives longer. Some say females live shorter lives due to the stress of owning and raising cubs.

Even when humans don't threaten them, cougars tend to lead high-risk lifestyles. They often suffer injury or death as they target animals larger than themselves.

When they attack elk or deer, they may be thrown against a tree or a rock hard enough to break their back. Sometimes they are trampled by the hooves of hordes of animals. Cougars may be impaled by tree branches or antlers, and such injuries can lead to starvation. The cats died from lightning strikes, snake bites and rockslides.

Read more  German Rottweiler vs. American Rottweiler: What's the Difference?
Cougar (Felis Concolor) - on a rock with a baby
When a cougar is kept in captivity, the animal can live up to 20 years.

© outdoorsman/Shutterstock.com

population

Researchers have not been able to estimate exactly how many mountain lions there are in the wild. By some accounts, there were an estimated 30,000 people throughout the western United States.

Puma densities typically range from 1 to 7 cats per 100 km of territory, with males allowing multiple females within their range. Oregon estimates its mountain lion population at about 6,600, while California thinks it has between 4,000 and 6,000 animals.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which tracks puma populations in every country in Central and South America, reports that there are fewer than 50,000 big cats in that part of the world. This is considered a downtrend.

However, mountain lion researchers in the United States believe the country's population is rebounding. California has implemented protections for its mountain lion population, but 13 states, including Wyoming, Colorado and Utah, classify them as game, allowing people to hunt them for sport.

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Cougars are obligate carnivores. This means that in order to survive, animals must eat meat. The feline is a generalist predator, so it will treat any animal it can catch as a meal. While it prefers to eat hoofed animals such as deer, elk, and moose, the feline will eat wild boar, coyotes, and badgers.

Cougars attack humans, but fatal attacks are rare. Humans are far more dangerous to cougars. More cougar attacks have occurred across the United States due to human development into feline habitats. This has also led to a decline in mountain lion populations. Children are more likely than adults to be attacked by cougars, accounting for 64 percent of victims. People who are alone in mountain lion territory are more likely to be attacked than those who move through these areas in groups.

There is no difference between cougars and mountain lions. This big cat has so many names because it is found in many different parts of the country and the world. Early North and South American explorers referred to the cat as leon, or lion, and gato monte, meaning cat of the mountains. This is where the name "mountain lion" for the feline family comes from. The name "cougar" seems to come from an old South American word, cuguacuarana, which was shortened to "cuguar" and later got the "cougar" spelling.

Cougars belong to the animal kingdom.

Cougars belong to the phylum Chordate.

Cougars belong to the class of mammals.

Cougars are cats.

Cougars belong to the order Carnivora.

Cougars belong to the genus Puma.

Cougars are covered with fur.

Cougars live in forests and mountains.

Cougars prey on deer, elk and beaver.

Predators of the cougar include humans and grizzly bears.

Cougars have strong forearms and claws and muscular jaws.

The average number of babies a cougar has is 3.

Cougars are the largest cat species in North America.

The scientific name of the puma is Felis Concolor.

Cougars can live 10 to 20 years.

Cougars can travel as fast as 30 miles per hour.