Although cougars are bigger than some “big cats”, they are considered a small cat due to their ability to purr and not roar. Cougars have over 70 different names and have the widest habitat range of any of the cats.
Cougars in the wild live between 10 and 12 years. In captivity, they can live up to 25 years.
Shape & Size
Cougars can range anywhere from 3 ½ to 6 ½ feet long with tails that are typically 2/3 the length of their bodies. Cougars weigh between 130 and 290 pounds. Males are larger than females.
Cougars come in a range of colors from buff to brown to gray. Cougars have a white underbelly and typically the tip of their tail is darker than the rest of their bodies.
Cougars are solitary animals, only coming together to mate. Cougars are ambush predators. They like to ambush their prey from a rock, cliff, or other higher elevation. Females will often "scream" when they are in heat to let males in the area know. This is how they got one of their many names, "Mountain Screamer".
Cougars are very adaptable and can live in areas that range from tropical rainforests or conifer forests to high mountains and even the desert.
People are cougars' number one threat. People have driven cougars out of the eastern part of the United States due to hunting and urbanization. Cougars no longer reside east of the Mississippi River except for a small pocket in Florida, known as the Florida Panther.
Cougars have the widest range of all cat species. They live as far north as Canada and as far south as Argentina. Cougars were once prevalent in the eastern part of the United States but have been driven out west of the Mississippi River. They are no longer found on the east coast except for a small population in the Florida Everglades called the Florida Panther.
Cougars eat small mammals, including rabbits, mice, and hares. Occasionally, they will eat livestock, including sheep and young cattle. They are capable of taking down a moose but mostly stick to deer.
Cougars have an average gestation period of 92 days and have one to six kittens per litter but the average is two or three kittens. The kittens are born with spots that disappear as they get older, and they begin to eat solid food around 6 to 7 weeks of age.
Cougars hunt primarily at dusk and dawn when their prey is more visible. Cougars are known for their high-pitched, human-like scream that can be heard sometimes at night where they are known to reside. This scream, at times, is a warning to others but typically is from a female in heat. The female lets out this scream to let the males know she is ready to mate.
Cougars are listed as “Endangered” in the Endangered Species Act but this refers only to a couple of the subspecies including the Costa Rican Puma, Eastern Puma, and Florida Panther. The major threat to cougars is habitat loss. They have been driven to local extinction east of the Mississippi due to habitat loss.
- Cougars have over 70 different names
- Cougars have large hind legs that help propel them into the air - they have larger hind legs than front legs
- Cougars are able to jump up to 15 feet in the air and 40 feet horizontally
- Cougars have a large, thick tail that can be used as a rudder to change direction midair when they are jumping after prey