You may have heard and known a lot about lion, cheetah, jaguar, leopard, and other species of wild cat. What about cougars? How much do you know about the second biggest wild cat after jaguars? Knowing some facts about cougars is so interesting because not many people know them. Cougars have some other names such as mountain lion, puma, and panther and this makes people a little confused. They thought they were different animals but in fact they are the same.
Physical Characteristics Of Cougars
Physical characteristic of cougars is so amazing. Cougars are known to have a beautiful look. The cubs have spots (like those on lions’ body) that gradually disappear as they grow. Adult cougars, both males and females have a tawny brown to brow-gray fur all over their body except the belly and chest. These two parts range in color from white to gray. Meanwhile, there are black marks around the nose, tail, and ears. From the physical description, it’s clear that cougars look different from other wild cats.
Then, how big are they? Female cougars weigh only about 60 to 150 pounds while the males can weigh up to over 200 pounds. There is an interesting fact about the weight. Where they live influences their weight. Cougars that live close to the poles are bigger than those living near equator. Adult cougars can reach 15 inches tall. About the length, from nose to tail, generally they are approximately 50 inches in length.
Just like their big cat fellows, cougars have a very strong body especially on the legs and shoulders. That is why they are a fast runner. They also have very powerful jaws and sharp canine teeth so they can kill their prey quickly. After the prey is killed, the cougars use their teeth to drag the prey to a place where they can enjoy their food undisturbed.
Cougars Mating Habit
After the age of 2, female cougars are able to reproduce of give a birth. The time between December and July is generally considered as the mating season although they can actually breed just anytime. Female cougars are known to only mate with one male several times. Female cougars are responsible completely for the cubs. Before giving a birth, they look for a cave that serves as shelter for the babies. Usually, cougars can deliver 2 to 4 cubs at once.
Male cougars do not involve in parenting. The mother takes cares of all the cubs on her own until the cubs are ready to face the real world, travelling long distance to develop territory. It mostly happens at the age of 2.
Facts About The Cubs
Among all wild big cats, cougar is the most similar to a housecat. The difference is that cougars have bigger body size. Therefore, a baby cougar just looks like a new born kitten. The cubs are born with the eye closed. In about two weeks, the eyes open and you can see beautiful baby-blue eyes. In a year, the eye color gradually changes to greenish-yellow. The cubs live with their mothers until they are about two years old.
Baby cougars look exactly like domestic cat because they are only about 15 ounces (equivalent to 500 grams) at birth. They quickly gain bulk as they are fed with their mom’s fatty milk. Their teeth also grow at an impressive rate. At birth, they have spots all over the body but they fade away and disappear at all.
Where Do Cougars Live?
Cougars are mostly found in the Americas, the western portions of Europe, and other parts of Western hemisphere. The greatest population of cougars live in Yukon, Canada, and Andes of South Africa. These mammals are actually considered as highly adaptable. It explains why they can survive in a variety of habitats.
It is not uncommon to see cougars in lowland tropical forests, dry brush countries, boreal forest, and grassland. In order to survive in their habitat, they need enough solid vegetation, rock-strewn crevices, and caves for shelter. Of course, the presence of adequate prey is necessity.
What Do Cougars Eat?
Cougars fall to category of carnivore which means they are mammals who kill and eat other animals as their foods. Deer, elk, and mouse are their favorite prey. Sometimes, they also eat porcupines, raccoons, coyotes, and other smaller animals. Generally, they hunt at night, dawn, and dusk.
They have a unique way in hunting for food. They hunt their prey in a dense cover. After the prey is killed, they drag the prey and bring it somewhere to eat it uninterrupted. They usually don’t eat all of it but and they hide the leftover under leaves of grass. They come back later when they feel hungry again.
How Dangerous Are Cougars?
Have you ever heard a cougar attacked humans? Never, right? There might be some cases of cougars attacking humans but it’s very rare or almost never. It’s because cougars are actually elusive. They are afraid of people and always try to avoid seen by people. Even when you are going for a hike in Canada mountains, you will be highly unlikely to see cougars. It’s not because there are no cougars but because the animals are hiding from you.
How Long They Can Live?
Cougars’ lifespan is longer than most of their big cat fellows. While other wild cats usually can live up to 15 years, cougars can live up to 20 years. When they are put in captivity, they can even survive longer. Several factors may influence their lifespan. The factors include both abiotic and biotic factors such as human intervention, food source and competition, weather change, and habitat.
How Do They Communicate?
One of the interesting facts about cougars is they produce growling sound like domestic cats instead of roaring like lion. As they are territorial and solitary animals, they also show some physical signs to mark their territory. For example, they leave claw markings or feces. They also spray urine as a message just like lions and other big cats do.