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Cougar

Cougar

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Cougar

Features of the cougar

 Family: Felidae
Length: 2 metres
Weight: 63 to 103 kg (males), 35 to 60 kg (females), depending on region
Sexual maturity: 2 to 3 years
Lifespan: 10 to 12 years

  • Very good night vision
  • Small round head
  • Dark spots behind ears and on tip of tail
  • Retractable claws
  • Tawny or reddish brown coat with dull white underbelly
  • Long tail up to one metre in length

The cougar (Puma concolor) belongs to the cat family, or felidae. It is larger than the two other wild felines of Canada, the Canada lynx and the bobcat. Its size places it second among the felines of the Americas, behind the jaguar. The cougar’s range extends from northern British Columbia to southern Argentina. It is also called ‘mountain lion’ in the United States and ‘puma’ in South America. 

Body of an athlete

CouguarThe cougar has an agile and athletic body, making it a fast runner and skilled climber. As masters of camouflage, cougars do not easily let themselves be observed by humans.

 

 

A solitary animal

Cougars adapt to any natural environment where they can conceal themselves, make their den and, of course, eat. They are solitary animals that protect their territory from intruders. The male can occupy a territory of 250 km2, while the female makes do with about half this area.

Love and death

While the cougar is able to reproduce 12 months a year, mating season usually occurs in winter. The male mates with females whose territories overlap with his own. When two males fight over the same female, the loser sometimes pays with his life.

A watchful mother 

Following a gestation period of 90 days, the female gives birth to a litter of two or three kittens. The kittens begin eating meat around the age of six weeks. The mother watches over her offspring very closely, since, among other predators, male cougars can sometimes attack the kittens.

Maturity and independence

CouguarIf a young cougar loses its mother during the first year of life, it has little chance of survival. Around the age of two years, once it has learned to feed itself and hunt, the young adult is ready to leave its mother to go conquer its own territory.

Grace and power

The cougar is a graceful and powerful hunter. It lies silently in wait for its prey, and when it attacks, even large animals cannot withstand it. Its claws and long teeth can tear through muscles and sinews. The deer is its favourite prey, but the cougar also feeds on smaller game such as hares and beavers. It buries the carcasses of prey in order to have a reserve for the next time it gets hungry.

The effect of environment

Size, weight and coat colour vary according to geographic zone. Cold regions are home to larger cougars, while smaller cougars are found in warm climates.

Predators

In North America, cougars sometimes fall prey to a grizzly or a pack of wolves. In Central and South America, the cougar must be especially wary of jaguars and anacondas. Through the invasion and destruction of its habitat, humans, however, pose the greatest threat to the cougar’s survival.

Distribution

CouguarCougars have been present in the Americas for about 300,000 years. After almost two centuries of  persecution, it has nearly disappeared from certain regions. Today, about 30 sub-species can be found in North, Central and South America.

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