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Mountain Lion Poo: Everything You Needed to Know

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Whether you call them cougars, painters, cougars, panthers, pumas, etc., one thing is clear: cougars have the most names in the animal kingdom. Other names include red tiger, mountain screecher, puma, Mexican lion, and more. In addition to their 40-plus names, the animals are remarkable predators with other fascinating traits. For example, the cougar (Puma concolor) can run at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour. They are also excellent jumpers and can jump up to 18 feet (about the height of a standard two-story building).

Unfortunately, tracking cougars may not be as easy as tracking other animals because they don't leave claw marks. That's because they retract their claws perfectly as they move. However, one can confirm their presence by identifying their droppings.

Do you want to know how to do it? Head over here then; we're eager to let you in on all the fun details.

How to Spot a Cougar's Poop

mountain lion poop
Cougar droppings can be brown, black or off-white.

©Peggy Hazelwood/Shutterstock.com

Cougar poop can tell you a lot. It can tell you what they ate, how healthy they are, whether they are nearby, and more. But the first step to gaining all this knowledge is recognizing their poop when you see them. So, what does cougar poop look like?

Puma poop is "rope-like". It looks like a piece of rope with segments (although it can also be solid) and can be as short as 5 inches or as long as 9.5 inches. Cougar droppings are also 1 inch wide (or larger). The end of the poop may be blunt or pointed like a tail.

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Another way to identify cougar droppings is to look for pellets left in it. While people are unlikely to find berry seeds or fruit in a panther's droppings, they may find hair, bone fragments or grass clippings. Cougar droppings are brown, black or off-white, which is typical of their composition and age.

Other signs to look for when checking for a cougar's poop include abrasions and odors. You may find scratches around cougar droppings, as male painters like to pile dirt or dirt on them before urinating or excreting. This can serve as a marker for other cats. Like other cats, male and female panthers may also attempt to cover their poop to cover/mask their pungent smell and avoid predators.

Since cougars are top predators, they don't have any real natural predators, although grizzlies can be a threat, especially when they're young. Likewise, there are fears that humans will hunt them down.

Where do cougars poop?

puma vs cougar
Cougars often leave their poop on grass as a scent mark.

©Scott E Read/Shutterstock.com

Cougars (especially males) like to poop in the center. So it's not impossible to find cougar droppings on logs, rocks, ridgelines, in the middle of dirt roads, etc. As solitary and territorial animals, they like to mark their area with droppings.

If cougars want to use their poop as a scent mark, they will usually place it on a poop pile. Sometimes they do this to reduce the risk of other animals encroaching or to establish their own dominance. This behavior may also be to increase their chances of mating/reproducing with nearby females.

What do mountain lions eat?

Cougar vs Cougar
Mountain lions eat deer, beavers, and coyotes, among other things.

© Kwadrat/Shutterstock.com

Like other cats, panthers are obligate carnivores. Cougars are often opportunistic hunters, preying on animals as they come by. They can eat larger carnivores and have plenty of prey. These include deer, beavers, coyotes, elk, raccoons, antelope, black bears, wild horses and wild boars. Panthers also feed on porcupines, rabbits, mice, moose, bighorn sheep, badgers, birds, woodchucks, insects, caribou, and squirrels.

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As opportunistic hunters, cougars prefer to hide and ambush prey rather than stalk and hunt them. They kill their prey by biting their spinal cords. Cougars can eat up to 30 pounds of meat in one meal. However, they can also save food for later by burying food and eating it within two weeks.

The first food for leopard cubs up to 7 weeks is breast milk. After weaning, they start eating the meat their mother brings them. Cougar cubs begin to hunt (mostly rabbits) on their own when they are about four to six months old. The bigger/faster they grow, the better they can hunt larger animals. When they are fully mature, they start preying on elk, deer, etc.

Mountain Lion Poop vs Bobcat Poop

Bobcats and cougars are included in the list of wildcat species in North America along with bobcats, jaguars, ocelots and pumas. As relatives, mountain lions and bobcats share similar physical and behavioral characteristics, including body color and excellent swimming abilities. They prey on similar small animals such as rabbits, mice, and squirrels, and are also solitary/territorial animals.

However, they also differ significantly, especially when it comes to size, weight and poop. Although bobcat droppings are segmented like mountain lion's, it has a tubular shape. Bobcat poop may also be shorter than that of a cougar. Note that bobcats also try to cover their droppings, and like mountain lions, have hair and bone marks in their droppings.

Mountain Lion Poop vs. Coyote Poop

Another animal that shares similarities with the mountain lion is the coyote. They look so much alike that one might mistake a cougar for a coyote, or vice versa. Cougars, however, are much larger than coyotes. Cougars are about 3 feet tall at the shoulder, while coyotes are usually only 2.2 feet. Likewise, cougars weigh up to 130 pounds, while the heaviest coyotes weigh about 45 pounds. Therefore, in a fight between the two animals, the mountain lion is more likely to win.

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Coyote poop is easy to identify. They are tubular and look like various parts knotted into a rope. Like cougars, they leave their droppings in plain sight.


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