The mountain lion (also called cougar) is one of the most feared animals on the planet, and rightfully so. This feared mammal can run up to 35 miles an hour and leap from an astounding 50 feet. Once he crushes his prey’s neck with his teeth, he then proceeds to remove the viscera beginning with the heart, lungs, and liver.
The other various names for this animal include the cougar, panther, puma, or catamount. They have encompassed most of the new world from the Yukon to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. They have even been spotted in Florida. The reason why they have been spotted in such diverse locations is their ability to adapt. They are capable of surviving in not only topical climates, but even the most frigid regions. Other than the Home sapiens, the mountain lion has occupied more territory than any other land mammal, including Ligers, Tiglons, Tigons, Lions, and Tigers.
The Anatomy of the Cougar:
The mountain lion looks much like a typical short-haired domesticated cat. With a shortened face and a small head, he also processes small round ears. His neck is long as well as his tail. The length of this lion ranges anywhere from six to nine feet depending on it's gender. A female can range anywhere from six to seven feet long, while a male can be as long as nine feet. Although they may resemble a house cat, you probably wouldn’t want one of these lions as a pet. A male can weigh anywhere from 125-160 pounds, while a female weighs in at 80 –100 pounds. The color of this lion can vary from buff, tawny, to bluish gray along the back and sides with a lighter shaded belly, throat, and inner legs. Look for a black nose and a dark-tipped tail. The mountain lion has a set of teeth that can kill with one bite. It is capable of slashing, and tearing its prey to pieces. And lastly, the mountain lions legs are so powerful they can move with incredible speed, giving him a head start and a great advantage!
Range and Habitat:
By the early 1900’s cougars have faced extinction in the eastern United States. With the rapid growth of the white-tailed deer population one century later, the mountain lion returned and flourished.
The cougar is somewhat of a loner. He lives a solitary life and is nocturnal. He will stake out a large range of up to a few dozen square miles. The size of this territory depends on the availability of prey. The male does not possess good manners. He does not like to share this range with other males. Females are more tolerant of sharing their range with other females. They will often choose their “prey range” based on whether there’s a male range nearby. This gives them ample opportunity to find the perfect mate. They will stay in that selected area not only for hunting, but for birthing their young, and for resting.
The cougar can select a range located on a sunny sea shore or a steep mountain slope reaching elevations of up to 15,000 feet. Mountain lions do not live in dens (except for females with kittens).They prefers to set up home in crevices, caves, or dense brush. They have even been seen living in populated areas in drainage ditches and culverts. This adaptable mammal is capable if living in tropical forests, swamps, mountain forests, and deserts. As long as there's an adequate amount of prey and room to hunt-they can survive in nearly any location.
Panther Habits and Diet:
This furry animal hunts by stalking, then ambushing his prey, similar to lions, tigers, ligers, and tigons. Often he is watching from a cliff and will pounce on its prey from a high elevation. Usually a prey cannot out run the quick speed of this agile lion. As mentioned in the first paragraph, the mountain lion removes its prey’s viscera. He isn’t worried about his table manners when it comes to enjoying a good meal.
The mountain lions favorite meal is then white-tail or mule deer. If the deer can’t be found then this lion will prey on anything he can catch from moose, elk, birds, sheep, or rodents. A mountain lion will even eat insects if the pickings are slim.
After the kill, the mountain lion hides its meal and covers it with leaves. It returns to its prey, taking several days to eat and savor the tasty meal. It can kill a large animal more than once a week. A female will kill more frequently if she has a family to feed. Did you know that a lion consumes 8-10 pounds of meat a day? Now that’s a lot of meat! The young or sick are always at risk to being attacked by bears, wolf packs, or even other mountain lions.
Life Cycle and Sexual Maturity of a Mountain Lion, Cougar, and Panther:
The male mountain lion reaches maturity at three years of age. The female reaches sexual maturity at around two and one half years. Although there is no specific breeding season, U.S. Mountain lions usually breed in late fall to early winter. After a short lived affair, the male leaves the female to be a single mom and returns to his solitary life. The female will give birth to one to six kittens around three months later. She will nurse her babies for around three months. When the kittens reach six months of age their devoted mom will teach them how to hunt. This is also the age when the kitten begins to take on their adult color. She may teach them the skills they need to survive for another year, then after that they are left on their own to survive the wiled. With any luck they will survive in the wild for 8-20 years. For those in captivity, they can live as long as 20 years!