Cat of the Month ~ September 2009
The Cougar ~ a ‘stalk & ambush’ predator
Image from the Oregon State University website
The Cougar is also known as puma, mountain lion, Catamount, or panther, depending on the region in which it is identified, is a mammal of the Felidae family (in other words it’s a Cat :yes: ahem..), native to the Americas.
This large, solitary creature has the greatest range of any large wild terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere, extending from Yukon in Canada to the southern Andes of South America. An adaptable, generalist species, the cougar is found in every major American habitat type. It is the second heaviest cat in the American continents after the jaguar, and the fourth heaviest in the world, along with the leopard, after the tiger, lion, and jaguar, although it is most closely related to smaller felines.
The genus and species name is said to mean ‘a cat of one color’, describing the almost single colored coat. Coat colors range from tan to dark brown, depending on the region. Coat thickness also varies. Kittens are born with spotted coats as are lion cubs. They also have the distinguishing black face marks and tail tip. As the young cougar matures, it will lose it’s spots for an adult coat. Cougars range in size from five to eight feet long, and from about 60 to 225 lbs. Males are almost twice as large as females.
A capable stalk-and-ambush predator, the cougar pursues a wide variety of prey. Primary food sources include deer, elk, and bighorn sheep, as well as domestic cattle, horses, and sheep, but it also surprisingly hunts species as small as insects and rodents. Moreover, it prefers habitats with dense underbrush and rocky areas for stalking, but it can live in open areas.
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