Puma is a predatory feline animal. Skillful and agile hunter, one of the brightest and most graceful representatives of big cats. In this article you can see the description and photo of the puma, learn a lot of new and interesting things about the life of this beautiful wild cat.
What does a cougar look like and what is it called?
Puma looks like a strong cat, she has a very flexible body, with a long muscular tail. Paws are adapted for climbing trees. Puma has a short and thick coat.
Adults cougars mostly have a reddish color, the lower side of the body is lighter than the upper one. Muzzle of a cat with black markings and dark ears.
The length of the puma's body is 100-180 cm, the tail length is 60-75 cm. The height at the withers is 60-90 cm, the puma's weight can reach 100 kg. It is noteworthy that males are much larger than females. The average weight of females varies from 30-50 kg, and male - 60-80 kg.
This wildcat has other names. The puma is also called the mountain lion and the cougar.
Where does the cougar live?
Puma - a foreign representative of large wild cats. The cougar lives in North and South America, inhabits a fairly large area - from the Yukon (Canada) to Patagonia (South America).
The puma lives in mountainous areas and is not afraid of great heights. Also prefers habitat in coniferous and tropical forests, is found on swamps and plains.
Pumas are almost universal, they easily move along mountain slopes and rocks, they climb trees perfectly and can swim well in water. The animal cougar is able to adapt to life in any locality.
Adult cougars often choose life alone, exceptions are mothers with kittens and couples of the mating season. In the wild, the cat puma lives up to 20 years.
How does a cougar hunt?
Cougar is a skilled hunter and an excellent predator. It has a very sharp eyesight, so the cougar hunts at dusk and dark. In some cases, go hunting and day. This predatory cat has its own hunting tactics, it is a great strategist.
The wild animal cougar creeps up to prey from the leeward side so that it does not smell its smell. A puma attack occurs by jumping onto the victim’s back, after which the mountain lion breaks the prey neck or grabs his teeth by the throat and begins to choke.
Pumas are very clever and cunning, they hide half-eaten meat by falling asleep with its foliage. Hungry, they return to hidden prey. Unfinished carcasses provide food to other surrounding animals.
The puma hunts mainly on deer, elk, guanaco. However, the predatory cougar feeds on other animals, including pumas and livestock. In one year, one cat-puma eats from 800-1300 kg of meat, which is about 48 hoofed animals.
The mountain lion of America has thirty teeth that are strong enough and adapted to tear tissue and break bones. Claws he uses to capture and hold prey.
Cougars can make jumps up to 6 meters long and up to 2.5 meters high, run for short distances at speeds up to 60 km / h. The American mountain lion has at its disposal a very extensive hunting area. In puma females it ranges from 26 to 350 km², and in males it ranges from 140 to 760 km².
Cubs puma: appearance and development
Puma - the animal is quite quiet. She publishes loud screams only in the marriage period, which first comes at the age of two or three years. The duration of the puma’s pregnancy is three months. On average, a puma gives birth to 2-3 cubs, weighing 250-450 g and a body length of 25-30 cm.
Puma kittens differ from adults primarily in color. Cougar cubs have a brownish-gray tint with black spots that changes by the age of one.
Puma cubs open their eyes 2 weeks after birth, their first teeth erupt at the same time. Initially, cougar kittens have a pronounced blue eye color, which gradually changes in six months. Spots on wool begin to fade by 9 months and gradually disappear by 2 years.
Puma kittens start eating adult food at the age of 6 weeks, but milk is still included in their diet. Puma cubs stay with their mother for up to two years, during which time they have time to learn all the necessary skills for survival and hunting, for further independent living.
After that, the young cougar go in search of their own hunting grounds, but can stay in groups with their brothers and sisters for several months after leaving mother.
America’s largest cat has no natural enemies. Few would dare to battle with the majestic and quick-witted cougar. Only occasionally, some large predators can attack young and inattentive cougars.
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Puma concolor - this is the name of the species in Latin, where the second part translates as “monochrome”, and this statement is true if we consider the color in terms of the absence of a pattern. On the other hand, the beast does not look entirely monochrome: the upper part contrasts with a light belly, and on the face there is a distinct white zone of the chin and mouth.
An adult male is about a third larger than a female and weighs 60–80 kg with a length of 1–1.8 meters.. Individual copies gain 100–105 kg. The puma is 0.6–0.9 m tall, and the muscular, evenly pubescent tail is 0.6–0.75 m. The cougar has an elongated and flexible body, crowned with a proportional head with rounded ears. Puma has a very attentive look and beautiful, black-lined eyes. The color of the iris varies from hazel and light gray to green.
Hind wide paws (with 4 fingers) are more massive than the front ones, which consist of 5 fingers each. The fingers are armed with curved and sharp claws that retract, like all cats. Retractable claws are needed to capture and hold the victim, as well as for climbing the trunks. The coat of the mountain lion is short, coarse, but thick, resembling the coloring of its main prey - deer. In adults, the lower side of the body is much lighter than the upper.
It is interesting! The prevailing shades are red, gray-brown, sandy and yellowish-brown. White markings are noticeable on the neck, chest and belly.
The cubs are colored differently: their dense fur is dotted with dark, almost black spots, there are stripes on the front and rear limbs, and rings on the tail. The color of pumas also affects the climate. Those who live in tropical regions, give ryzhina, and those who are in the north, often show gray tones.
Until 1999, biologists worked with the old classification of cougars, based on their morphological features and distinguishing almost 30 subspecies. The modern classification (based on genetic studies) has simplified the calculation, reducing all the diversity of cougars in total to 6 subspecies belonging to the same number of phylogeographic groups.
Simply put, predators differ both in their genomes and in their association with a specific territory:
- Puma concolor costaricensis - Central America,
- Puma concolor couguar - North America,
- Puma concolor cabrerae - the central part of South America,
- Puma concolor capricornensis - the eastern part of South America,
- Puma concolor puma - the southern part of South America,
- Puma concolor concolor is the northern part of South America.
It is interesting! Puma concolor coryi, a Florida cougar living in the forests / marshes of South Florida, is recognized as the rarest subspecies.
The greatest concentration was noted in the Big Cypress National Preserve (USA). In 2011, a little more than 160 individuals lived here, which is why the subspecies was listed in the IUCN red list with the status “critically endangered” (in critical condition). According to biologists, the person who drained the swamps and hunted because of sports interest is to blame for the disappearance of the Florida puma. Inbreeding made its contribution to extinction, when closely related animals mated (due to a small population).
Way of life, character
Pumas are principled singles who converge only in the mating season and then no more than a week. Females with kittens also keep together. Adult males are not friends: this is characteristic only of young cougars, recently detached from the maternal hem. The presence of game affects the population density: a single cougar can manage for 85 km², and more than a dozen predators in a half-size area.
As a rule, the female hunting plot takes from 26 to 350 km², adjoining the male's plot. The sector where the male hunts is vast (140–760 km²) and never intersects with the rival territory. The marking of boundaries occurs with the help of urine / feces and scratches on trees. Puma changes the location within the site depending on the time of year. Mountain lions are perfectly adapted to life on rough terrain: they are excellent jumpers (the best of all cats) both in length and in height.
- long jump - 7.5 m,
- high jump - 4.5 m,
- a jump from a height - 18 m (as from the roof of a five-story house).
It is interesting! Cougar accelerates to 50 km / h, but quickly exhales, but easily overcomes the mountain slopes, great climbs rocks and trees. Pumas, fleeing dogs in the southwestern deserts of the United States, even climbed giant cacti. The beast also swims well, but does not show much interest in this sport.
The puma hunts at dusk, preferring to knock the victim down with one powerful leap, and in the afternoon the predator sleeps in a den, basks under the sun or licks like all cats. For a long time there were tales about the chilling soul, published by puma, but everything turned out to be fiction. The loudest screams fall on the rut period, and the rest of the time the beast is limited to growling, rumbling, hissing, snorting and the usual feline "meow".
The vastness of the geographical regions where the cougar lives, would give the opportunity to attribute it to the most common type of feline. But despite the external similarity with the representatives of this family, the puma is separated into a separate genus. And in this genus included a single species with a huge number of subspecies.
The long tail balancing in a jump, a powerful body, strong paws and a small head made the cougar a unique representative of a separate genus, one of the most common on earth. Residents of North and South America, from Patagonia to the Rocky Mountains, can meet this majestic animal in the forests, on the plains, in mountainous areas, on swamps, and even in the tropical jungle. The only thing that does not like the cougar - open spaces.
An adult animal reaches a length of up to 2 m. The mass of an animal can reach the mark of 106-110 kg. The tail has a length of 0.8 m. The head of the animal is small. Such a powerful cat has very strong legs. Her muzzle usually has a white ending.
Color and habitat
North America and its climate gave the puma a silver sheen of fur. In the more southern pampas, the fur of the animal acquired a predominant golden-red shade. The Florida cougar, named for its primary habitat, is smaller than the rest of the subspecies, but also red, with a grayish-sand tint. From the place where the cougar lives, depends on its characteristic color.
Simple and exact names
Florida cougar is on the verge of extinction and is listed in the Red Book. There was a time when about 20 individuals remained on the entire planet. Wisconsin puma was destroyed by American hunters in 1925. Today, some subspecies of the beautiful creations of nature balance on the verge of complete extinction, the reason for this is the man who shoots a mountain lion, destroying the natural habitats of his habitat.
The prevalence of geographical latitudes, where you can meet representatives of a particular species, led to the fact that in many places the animal received poetic and inaccurate names. Only some subspecies received the name of the habitat. Always remember that the cougar is an animal. Where this forest beauty resides depends on its species. The remaining names were given to her in different regions by people admiring or frightened by her power, beauty, mystery, and outstanding hunting abilities.
Names are poetic and inaccurate
The opportunity to meet a formidable predator on a night hunt or in the afternoon, in the gentle sun, gave rise to awe, delusion, adoration. For example, the Appalachian Mountains, where the puma dwells, served as the name of its mountain lion in those places, and in the rest of America, especially in the west, where this animal was considered to be a symbol of the vast expanses, it was called differently:
- mountain devil
- royal cat
- red tiger
- silver lion
- mexican lion
- deer cat
Biologists account for about 30 subspecies of the red tiger, but they all live in North and South America, so the cougar is still lovingly called the largest cat in America. The man continues to gradually reduce the range of places where the cougar lives. Mainland North America christened puma puma, borrowing the name of a majestic animal from the Quechua language, and almost two subspecies were practically destroyed there.
Two continents habitat
Beautiful and majestic, capable of dragging the carcass of an animal harvested from a hunt and weighing more than a hunter, the cougar differs by subspecies depending on the place where it lives. The answer to the question of what kind of animal puma, where it lives (on which continent), suggests two options and two continents - North and South America. Its subspecies differ in American habitats:
- Puma concolor browni - in Mexico.
- Puma concolor costaricensis - from Panama to Nicaragua.
- Puma concolor kaibabensis - in Utah, Nevada and Northern Arizona.
- Puma concolor osgoodi - in Bolivia, in the Andes.
- Puma concolor soderstromi, - in Ecuador and so on.
About the existence of some subspecies, mostly Latin American, known to ridiculously little. They are described according to eyewitness accounts, poor and few blurred photos and several mined hides. Sometimes a naturalist can identify by trophy, but where the animal lives and how the skin is mined is unknown.
Similar but not so
The outward resemblance of a mountain lion can be seen with different felines, and sometimes it is even possible to get a hybrid of cougar and leopard, or to happen to it with an ocelot and a jaguar. But this is an artificial crossing, which does not happen in the wild, where the jaguar is one of the main enemies of the red tiger, and the latter is forced to avoid the habitats of the jaguar. The panther is similar in its own way with the cougar. But if you look closely, then much more puma like a domestic cat.
Little blind kittens
The American lion gives birth to 2 to 6 kittens, and, like a real cat, they are small, blind and completely helpless. And although already at 9 months they can hunt on their own, the female takes care of them for almost 2 years. All this happens in the other hemisphere and in another animal world, and in different conditions, but in appearance small pumas resemble both the ocelot, and the jaguar, and the panther, because they are born spotty. Only by growing up, they acquire the characteristic color of their species, and the specks disappear. This is the indigenous inhabitant of America, and it is named in the language of the indigenous inhabitants of America - the puma. Where lives in Russia? In Russia, it simply does not exist. Is that only in the zoo.
Even in the zoo, the puma hides its cubs from prying eyes and takes them for a walk only at the age of one month.
Food and habitat
Proud, huge, gorgeous, real royal cat - if necessary, can even eat snails and insects. A trifle, like marmots, small birds, coyotes, anteaters, and even snakes are not the main food, but a light, hearty snack.
The aborigines sincerely believed that the puma lives only where deer are found, but in certain habitats it preys on armadillos. On the hunt, her favorite method is an ambush attack, and the royal cat in a jump looks especially great.
Puma is a predator. She hunts various animals, from sparrows and mice to deer, bulls and monkeys. Usually the beast chooses to hunt night time. In the afternoon, like all representatives of the cat, she likes to bask in the sun. Pregnancy of such a cat lasts 3 months. Puma's life span is 18-20 years.
The destructive activity of humans in relation to wildlife has led to the fact that a magnificent animal, a representative of a particular species, is in some places under threat of complete extinction. And it is especially bitter to realize, remembering about his mind, beauty, grace and originality.
Distribution and subspecies
In ancient times, the habitat of the puma was considered very extensive among all mammals of the United States of America. And even today, in terms of breadth of distribution, this graceful cat is comparable (from the cat family) only to a forest cat, a lynx trot, and a handsome leopard. Now in America and Canada, the puma has been preserved mainly in the mountainous regions in the west of the country. In the east, the puma was completely exterminated. The exception is only a very small population of a rare subspecies of Puma concolor coryi, which lives in Florida.
According to eyewitness accounts, today cougar is often found in Quebec in Canada and in Vermont (USA).
This is the rarest puma. The animal, the number of which in nature amounted to only 160 individuals in 2011, lives in swamps and forests of southern Florida. Its rapid disappearance is due to the drainage of swamps, poisoning, sport hunting.
Florida cougar has a relatively small size. Окрас шерсти - рыжеватый, темный. В результате инбридинга пума приобрела загнутый кончик хвоста. В настоящее время американские ученые собираются скрестить флоридских пум с представителями других подвидов, чтобы создать устойчивую саморегулирующуюся популяцию.
В природе существуют белые пумы, а также темно-коричневые особи, которые встречаются в Америке. Черная пума – животное, скорее, мифическое. Ученые утверждают, что черной пумы и пумы-меланиста в природе не существует.
Earlier there were reports of the discovery of puma-melanists, leucists, albinos. Reports of black cougar came from South and Central America. A black cougar killed in Costa Rica in 1959 turned out to be dark brown and not black.
It was reported that the black puma was fixed in Kentucky, but later it turned out that this cat had a lighter shade of belly. This means that the animal was a dark brown color.
In Idaho, in the fall of 2007, the puma was shot dead with a black muzzle, throat and chest. Behind her ear she had a black spot, which was recognized by scientists as a phenomenon of partial melanism. For official confirmation of this fact, a puma with known parents is required. It is kept in captivity. Therefore, today data on the existence of black cougars have not yet been confirmed.
The puma is an animal whose description can be found in all publications devoted to the life of predators. Not only experts, but also ordinary animal lovers are interested in the habits of these handsome men.
One of the largest feline predators that lives in the USA today is the cougar. The animal in size is inferior only to the jaguar. This kitty has a body length of up to 180 cm, with a tail length of 75 cm. The height at the withers reaches 76 cm. The weight of an adult male is about 105 kg. Females are 30% smaller than males.
Puma - an animal with a flexible and elongated body, low paws and a small head. The hind legs are much more massive than the front. The tail is muscular, long, pubescent evenly.
The paws are wide, ending with sharp retractile curved claws. Oval finger pads.
Coat and color
Puma (photo of the animal can be seen in all reference books on predators) has a thick, short and coarse fur. Pumas are the only cats in America of a single color.
Adult animals have a grayish-brown or brownish-yellow coat. In this case, the lower side of the body is much lighter than the upper. Pumas are similar in color to their main prey, deer. On the throat, chest and abdomen there are light burnings, on the face - black spots. The ears are dark, the tail ends with a black speck. Pumas living in tropical areas are red and northern individuals are gray in color.
In young fur is much thicker. It has dark stripes, spots on the hind and forelimbs, as well as rings on the tail.
Pumas live in various localities - from plains to rather high mountains (4700 m), in different landscapes - in coniferous forests of mountains, on grassy plains, in pampas. In short, the puma is an animal that lives in any locality. She should only find there enough food and a safe haven.
These wild animals try to avoid wetlands and lowlands. The cougar gives such territory to the jaguars who have chosen such places. These predators are well adapted to life on rough terrain. Muscular limbs allow them to jump up to six meters in length and up to two and a half meters in height. Pumas while running can reach speeds of up to 50 km / h (albeit only at short distances).
Puma (you can see a photo of an animal in our article) - an animal that prefers to live alone. Families are formed only in the mating season. Population density depends on game availability.
The part of the female she hunts is between 26 and 350 square kilometers. The plot of the male can occupy a huge area of up to 760 square kilometers. Puma moves on its plot according to the season. In winter, it can be on one site, and in summer - on another.
For prey puma comes out at night. Her diet is mostly ungulates - deer, moose, thornhorses. She will not give up on livestock.
At the same time, the puma eats various animals - from squirrels and mice to lynxes, coyotes and even pumas. Unlike leopards and tigers, the puma makes no distinction between domestic and wild animals, often attacking livestock, cats, dogs. At the same time, it kills far more living creatures than it can eat.
When hunting, the cougar uses the surprise factor - it sneaks up on large prey and jumps to its victim from a fairly close distance, breaks its neck. In the year the cougar consumes up to 1300 kg of meat. Predators hide the remains of prey, falling asleep with its brushwood, leaves or snow. They can return to this repository more than once.
The puma is a very strong and enduring animal that can drag a carcass a long distance, which is five to seven times its own weight.
In nature, the puma has no enemies. Only occasionally large predators (grizzly, jaguars, wolves) attack young and sick individuals.
This is the only wild cat of America, which occupies the longest area of the continent.. A few centuries earlier, puma could be found on a vast territory from the south of Patagonia (Argentina) to Canada and Alaska. Nowadays, the range has narrowed considerably, and now cougars (if we talk about the United States and Canada) are found only in Florida, as well as in less populated western regions. True, the zone of their vital interests is still South America as a whole.
Zoologists have noticed that the puma range practically repeats the distribution range of wild deer, its main commercial object. It is no coincidence that the predator is called a mountain lion - it likes to settle in the highland forests (up to 4,700 meters above sea level), but does not avoid the plains. The main thing is that in the chosen area there are plenty of deer and other forage game.
Pumas inhabit different landscapes, such as:
- coniferous forests
- grassy plains
- swampy lowlands.
True, small-sized cougars of South America are afraid to appear in the marshy lowlands where jaguars hunt.
The beast goes on the hunt when it gets dark and usually lies in ambush in order to jump abruptly on the gaping living creatures. An open confrontation with a bull or a moose is given to the puma with difficulty, so she applies the surprise factor, fixing it with an exact leap onto the victim's back. Once on top, the cougar, due to its weight, rolls up its neck or (like other cats) sticks its teeth into its throat and strangles it. The diet of the puma consists mainly of hoofed mammals, but sometimes it diversifies it with rodents and other animals. Puma has also been seen in cannibalism.
The mountain lion menu looks like this:
- deer (white-tailed, black-tailed, pampas, caribou and wapiti),
- elks, bulls and high-thorned sheep,
- porcupines, sloths and possums,
- rabbits, squirrels and mice,
- beavers, muskrats and agouti,
- skunks, armadillos and raccoons,
- monkeys, lynx and coyotes.
Puma does not refuse birds, fish, insects and snails. At the same time, she is not afraid of attacking baribals, alligators and adult grizzlies. Unlike leopards and tigers, for the cougar there is no difference between domestic and wild animals: at every convenient opportunity, it cuts livestock / poultry, not sparing also cats and dogs.
It is interesting! For the year, one cougar eats from 860 to 1300 kg of meat, which is equal to the total weight of about fifty ungulates. She often and far drags the uneaten carcass to hide (littered with brushwood, foliage or snow) and return to it later.
The cougar has a bad habit of killing game with a reserve, that is, in a volume that far exceeds its needs. The Indians who knew about this watched the movements of the predator and collected for themselves priped in them, often completely intact carcasses.
Reproduction and offspring
It is believed that mountain lions do not have a fixed breeding season, and only for pumas living in northern latitudes, there is a certain framework - this is the period from December to March. Females are set to mate for about 9 days. The fact that cougars are actively looking for a partner, show the heart-rending cries of males and their fights. The male copulates with all the females in the estrus who wander into its territory.
The puma bears offspring from 82 to 96 days, giving birth to up to 6 kittens, each weighing 0.2–0.4 kg with a length of 0.3 m. After a couple of weeks, the newborn begin to see the world and see the world with blue eyes. After six months, the sky color of the iris changes to amber or gray. By the age of one and a half months, kittens, which have already cut their teeth, are switching to an adult diet, but do not refuse mother's milk. The most difficult task is facing the mother, who has to bring meat to her grown-up cubs (three times more than for herself).
By 9 months of age, dark spots begin to disappear on the fur of kittens, disappearing completely by 2 years. Cubs do not leave their mother until they are about 1.5–2 years old, and then disperse in search of their plots. Leaving the mother, young cougars for some time keep in small groups and finally disperse, entering the period of puberty. In females, fertility begins at 2.5 years, in males - six months later.
Puma has practically none. With some stretch, such large predators as can be attributed to its natural ill-wishers:
- wolves (in packs),
- black caimans
- Mississippi Alligators.
It is interesting! Puma stoically tolerates torture with a trap (unlike the insane jaguar and the tiger). She makes several attempts to free herself, after which she resigns herself to her fate and sits motionless until the hunter arrives.
All of these animals usually attack weak or young cougars. One of the enemies of a puma is a man who shoots and traps it.
Puma and man
Theodore Roosevelt created the Society for the Protection of Animals, but for some reason he disliked the pumas and (with the support of the head of the New York Zoological Society) allowed him to exterminate with impunity throughout the country. The hunters did not have to be persuaded for a long time, and hundreds of thousands of cougars were destroyed in America, despite the fact that the beast itself avoids the person and attacks him very rarely. In total, in the USA and Canada (from 1890 to 2004) less than a hundred registered cougar attacks occurred, most of which occurred in Fr. Vancouver.
Elementary precautions must be observed in the habitat of the puma:
- look after children
- take with you a strong stick
- do not move alone,
- when threatened, one should not run away from the puma: one should look into her eyes and ... howl.
It is proved that the beast is afraid of tall people. As a rule, the objects of his attack are children or stunted adults crossing the puma's path in the dark.
Population and species status
Thanks to security measures (since 1971, pumas have been protected by the state), the population is gradually recovering. Hunting of cougars is forbidden or limited throughout America, but they are still shot, given the damage caused to hunting and livestock.
Despite periodic shooting and environmental change, some subspecies of the puma multiplied their numbers, as they adapted to the previously unfamiliar landscapes. For example, the cougar population was revived, settling in the western United States and practically destroyed there in the last century. Nowadays, it has almost 30 thousand predators, which have begun to actively explore the eastern and southern regions.
It is interesting! However, three subspecies (Puma concolor coryi, Puma concolor couguar all and Puma concolor costaricensis) are still included in Appendix I CITES, on endangered animals.
And the last. More and more brave ones are taking on the education of cute pumas cubs. The fashion affects exotic and dangerous representatives of the fauna. How do we end up trying to tame wild animals, we know from the example of the Berber family.