Big Cats

The mountain lion goes by many names, including cougar, catamount, panther, red tiger, deer tiger, and puma. This cat can be found throughout much of South and North America.

The mountain lion used to be found all over the United States, but now is primarily seen in the western U.S. An endangered subspecies of mountain lion also remains in Florida. These felines are comfortable in many different habitats and, aside from humans, have the widest geographic range of any land mammal in the Western Hemisphere.

In North America, mountain lions eat mainly deer, but they also eat smaller animals, such as mice and rabbits. These cats have a poor sense of smell, but have excellent vision and hearing that help them hunt in the early morning and evening hours. Their powerful hind legs enable them to jump as far as 40 to 45 feet (12 to 13 meters).

This carnivore stalks its prey until an opportunity arises to pounce. Mountain lions “cache” their prey, or hide it under leaves and soil, where they can come back and feed on it over the course of several days.

Mountain lions don’t roar, but females have a loud scream, which is believed to attract males.

Females have an average of two to four cubs per litter and give birth in a den. The cubs are born with spots, which usually disappear by the time they are roughly nine months old. Their eyes also change from blue to yellow by the time they reach 16 months old. By 18 months, the young cats leave their mom to go fend for themselves.

Because of their size, strength, and predatory skills, mountain lions are considered one of the “big cats.” Tigersleopards, cheetahs, and jaguars are also part of this grouping. 

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