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The Puma is a large, secretive Cat predominantly found in the mountains from southern Canada to

the tip of South America. Also commonly known as the Cougar and the Mountain Lion, Pumas are
able to reach larger sizes than some 'big' cat individuals but despite their large size they are
believed to be more closely related to smaller feline species. Due to their extensive distribution,
there are 7 subspecies of Puma all of which share similar characteristics but tend to vary slightly in
colour and occasionally size. The Puma is thought to be one of the most adaptable felines on the
American continents as they are found in a variety of different habitats and unlike numerous Cat
species, the Puma has no markings on its fur leading to its scientific name Felis concolor which
means 'cat of one colour'.

Puma Anatomy and Appearance

Due to the fact that the majority of Pumas are found in more mountainous regions, they have a
thick coat of fur which helps to keep them warm in the freezing winters. Depending on the
subspecies and location, the Puma's fur varies in colour from brown-yellow to grey-red, with those
individuals found in colder regions being more grey and those found in warmer areas having more
of a red tinge to their fur. The Puma is an incredibly powerful predator and has muscular hind legs
that are slightly longer and stronger than the front, which makes them more agile when leaping.
They also have enormous paws which are very large in comparison to their body size. The Puma
has large wide-set eyes which not only enable it to see what is ahead of it, but they can also see
for some distance around them as well. They have pointed ears and their acute hearing allows
them to detect prey even when it is too dark for them to see.

Puma Distribution and Habitat

The Puma is found in the mountains throughout South and North America where it inhabits rocky
crags and pastures slightly lower down than the slopes than the grazing herbivores. Although
these seem to be the Puma's preferred conditions they are extremely adaptable animals that can
be found in a variety of habitats including forests, tropical jungle, grasslands and even in more arid
desert regions. However, with expanding Human settlements and land clearance for agriculture,
the Puma is being pushed into smaller pockets of its historically vast range, retreating into more
hostile mountain environments that are further away from people. It is widely believed however
that the Puma's adaptability has been vital in ensuring that it doesn't disappear from the wild
forever.

Puma Behaviour and Lifestyle

The Puma is a solitary animal with the exception of the time cubs spend with their mother. Pumas
patrol large home ranges in search of food which varies from 80 square miles in the summer to 40
in the winter, when the falling snow restricts access to a number of mountain areas. Some regions
can become so hostile that Pumas migrate from the mountain forests and go down into the valleys
to escape the worst of the cold. Not only can Pumas easily adapt to different surroundings but
they are also able to hunt effectively during the day or night. Their strong and muscular hind legs
and large paws mean that the Puma can move about amongst the rocks more quickly and with
greater agility. Pumas are known to make a variety of different sounds, particularly when warning
another Puma away from their territory and during the mating season when they are looking for a
mate.

Puma Reproduction and Life Cycles

The breeding season tends to occur between December and March with litters of up to 6 cubs
being born after a three month gestation period, generally between February and September.
After mating, the male and the female part company and he will continue to mate with other
females for the duration of the season. Like numerous other felines, Puma cubs are born blind and
are completely helpless for their first two weeks of life until their blue eyes fully open. Unlike the
one-colour adult Pumas, cubs are born with spots on their fur which helps them to be more easily
camouflaged from hungry predators. They are able to eat solid food when they are between 2 and
3 months old and remain with their mother for about a year. Many Pumas live to an average age
of 12 years but they have been known to reach 25 years old in captivity.

Puma Diet and Prey

The Puma is a large and powerful carnivore, hunting and eating only other animals in order to
survive. The majority of the Puma's diet is comprised of small animals like Mice, Rats, Birds, Fish
and Rabbits that are found living in a high abundance on the fertile mountain slopes and in the
lowland forests. The large size of the Puma though also means that it can hunt bigger animals
including Sheep, Raccoons, Goats and livestock which it catches by pouncing onto the animal to
secure it. The Puma is not only big, but its agile and incredibly muscular body means that it can
easily outrun many of the species that it hunts.

Puma Predators and Threats

The Puma is one of the most dominant predators throughout much of their natural environment
and are therefore rarely preyed upon by other species. It has been known however, for Pumas
that are vulnerable due to sickness or injury to be preyed upon by other large predators including
Bears and Wolves, and even other Pumas. The biggest threat to the Puma however, is people who
have not only hunted this large Cat (mainly for its fur) but the Puma has also been subjected to
drastic habitat loss throughout much of its natural range, mainly due to expanding Human
settlements and deforestation for agriculture. In some areas they are also hunted by ranch owners
who blame Pumas for their loss of livestock.

Puma Interesting Facts and Features


One of the most obvious reasons as to why this large and powerful feline is not classified as one of
the world's 'big' Cats is that Pumas are not able to roar. This is something distinctive to the 'big'
Cat family as no other feline is able to do so. The powerful hind legs of the Puma are so muscular
that they not only allow them to pounce on and secure their prey, but they are also able to leap
enormous distances of up to 20ft. One of the most famous subspecies of Puma is the Florida
Panther which is the smallest of the Puma species and also the rarest. Thought to be on the brink
of extinction, this endangered animal has more of a red tinge to the fur on its back along with
having a dark spot in the centre.

Puma Relationship with Humans

The Puma is a fearsome predator and although attacks on Humans are rare, they do occur
nonetheless. There have been nearly 100 recorded attacks on Humans but most of these occur
because the Puma has been cornered or feels threatened in some way. Rare cases of severe
starvation have also led to Pumas attacking Humans although this is not that common as people
are not generally seen as prey to them. Puma population numbers throughout both North and
South America have been declining over the past century particularly, mainly due to habitat loss
and the shooting of Pumas by farmers who fear for their animals.

Puma Conservation Status and Life Today

Despite being pushed into smaller regions of their vast historical range, the Puma has been listed
by the IUCN as an animal that is of Least Concern of becoming extinct in its natural environment in
the immediate future. This is because Pumas are not only incredibly adaptable animals but they
are also quite common in the more remote mountainous regions. In fact, many feel that it is the
Pumas ability to adapt to a number of different environments that has been the reason as to why
the population is still as numerous as it is.