North / South America
|Est. World Population:
||LOWER RISK - Conservation Dependent
|U.S. ESA Status:
||48 - 60 in
||25 - 30 in
||24 - 30 in
||65 - 195 lbs
||46 in / 197 in (Horitontal/Vertical)
||14 - 18 yrs in the Wild
||18 - 21 yrs in Captivity
||30 months (Females)
||36 months (Males)
||1 - 6
||82 - 96 days
Mountain lions are large and slender. The pelage of mountain lions has a short and coarse texture. The general coloration ranges from a yellowish brown to grayish brown on the upper parts and a paler, almost buffy, color on the belly. The throat and chest are whitish. Mountain lions have a pinkish nose with a black boarder that extends to the lips. The muzzle stripes, the area behind ears, and the tip of tail are black. The eyes of mature animals are grayish brown to golden. The tail is long, cylindrical, and about one-third of the animal's total length. The limbs are short and muscular. The feet are broad, with four digits on hind feet and five on forefeet. The pollex is small and set above the other digits. The retractile claws are sharp and curved. The skull of the mountain lion is noticeably broad and short. The forehead region is high and arched. The rostrum and the nasal bones are broad. The mandible is short, deep, and powerfully constructed. The carnassial teeth are massive and long. The canines are heavy and compressed. The incisors are small and straight. The mountain lion has one more small premolar on each side of the upper jaw than have the bobcat and the lynx.
- Paraguay, Bolivia
- Northern Andes
- Central Amazona
- California, Mexico
- Florida (CRITICALLY ENDANGERED)
- Central America
- Northeast USA, Southeast Canada
- Eastern Brazil
- British Columbia
- Bolivian Andes
- Chile, Argentina
- Central Chile, Argentina
- Texas, North East Mexico
Cougar range through a wide variety of habitats, from coniferous, deciduous and tropical forest, through swamps, grasslands, and semi deserts, from sea level to altitudes of 14,500 feet. Radio telemetry studies in Chile have found cougar home ranges to be up 65 square miles, with the cats often covering up to 10 miles in a few hours. Incredibly adaptable and very athletic, they have great leaping ability and are good climbers. They swim well but prefer not to enter the water unless it is necessary.
Biomes: tundra, taiga, temperate forest & rainforest, temperate grassland, chaparral, desert, tropical rainforest, tropical deciduous forest, tropical scrub forest, tropical savanna & grasslands, mountains
Nearctic: The mountain lion had one of the most extensive distribution of all American terrestrial mammals. It ranged from coast to coast in North America, and from southern Argentina to northern British Columbia. Hunting pressure and other environmental changes have restricted their range to relatively mountainous, unpopulated areas.
Female cougars are seasonally polyestrous, and there are no sharply defined breeding seasons in most of the range. Most births in North America occur from late winter to spring. The receptive period can last up to nine days, and male-female associations occur only during this time. Females usually give birth every other year. One to six, usually two to four, cubs are born in a cave, rock crevice, hollow log, under an over turned tree, or in thick vegetation. The gestation period is 80 - 96 days. Cubs weigh 8 - 16 ounces at birth and are spotted with dark brown spots over a brown buff coat. The spots gradually fade as they grow. Their blue eyes change to the greenish-yellow or yellowish-brown of the adults by 16 months of age. The eyes open at nine to ten days, they begin walking around 14 days, and nurse for three months or more, but begin to take some meat at six weeks old. The young cats will remain with the adult female at least through their first winter, and often up to 18 - 24 months. Litter mates may travel and hunt together for a few months after leaving the female. Sexual maturity is attained at around two and a half years of age for females, but males take at least three years.
Food & Hunting:
The mountain lion is essentially a carnivore. It mostly eats moose, wapiti, white-tailed deer, and caribou. It will also eat smaller creatures like voles, squirrels, mice, muskrat, porcupine, beaver, raccoon, striped skunk, coyote, birds, and even snails and fish. They have also developed a taste for poultry, calves, sheep, colts, and pigs. Mountain lions have a distinctive manner of hunting larger prey. The mountain lion maneuvers to within 50 feet of the prey, then leaps on its back and breaks the animal's neck with a powerful bite below the base of the skull. Yearly food consumption is between 1900 - 3,000 pounds of large prey animals.
Mountain lions are solitary animals. Their solitary existence is interrupted during the breeding season and during the period of juvenile dependence. Population densities vary from as low as one individual per 52 square miles to as high as one per 8 - 34 square miles. These mammals space themselves so that local food supplies and other essentials are not depleted. Females with dependent cubs live within the wide space used by the resident male. Residents mark their territories by depositing urine or fecal materials by the trees they marked with scrapes. The mountain lion is primarily nocturnal in its activity. It acquaints itself with its environment and food sources by relying mainly on vision, smell, and hearing. The mountain lion vocalizes with low-pitched hisses, growls, and purrs to get attention. The loud, chirping whistle by the young serves to direct the mother's attention to the cub. Males are found together immediately after leaving their mother, but rarely as established adults. The mountain lion has summer and winter home areas in different locations, requiring a migration between ranges.
Some subspecies are listed in CITES Appendix I; all others are Appendix II. Some populations are listed as Endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
Mountain lions are considered to be threats to domestic stock and also considered a potential danger to children and adults. However, the ferocity of the mountain lion is often exaggerated.