Cougar standing on a rock formation.

The cougar (Puma concolor) is the largest cat found in North America and is identified by other names such as the mountain lion, puma, panther, or catamount. This feline is extremely adaptable to most environment and can be found in a vast amount of range extending from Canada to the southern tip of South America. Cougars prefer to live in forests, but can be found in almost every type of biome throughout their habitat range.

Cougars rank as the fourth largest cat in the world, ranging in size dependent on gender. Males typically are an average of 7.9 ft from head to toe while their female counterparts are slightly less in average length at 6.7 ft. With respect to weight, males weigh more than females averaging a weight of 137 lbs compared to the females’ average of 93 lbs. Cougars can be identified by round shaped heads with stiffly standing ears. They have a coat usually in a tan to golden color similar to a lion’s and a white underbelly.

These felines are carnivores and general predators that will eat anything they capture such as insects, birds, and small or large animals. When hunting, cougars like to track their prey and stalk until they decide to pounce and kill with a strike to the neck of their prey. These felines will typically be associated with areas of high deer population and on average will take a large kill once every two weeks.

Cougars are typically solitary animals living on their own with exception to mothers caring for their cubs. They have been estimated to have a large range in territory sometimes as small as 10 sq mi to as large as 500 sq mi. Typically, if male cougars are overlapping in each other’s territories there may be physical confrontation for defense of the habitat.

Cougars will typically avoid confrontation with humans as they do not recognize people as prey. However, it is still best to avoid cougars as much as possible. If you encounter a cougar in the wild, it is best to remain calm, do not run or entice it to chase, and appear as big as you can. Use a strong voice and make loud noises to scare it away. If the mountain lion pursues or attacks, it is best to fight back with anything that you may have or that may be nearby such as sticks, rocks, knife, or bare hands.

Last updated: August 30, 2018

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