The puma, or mountain lion was once very abundant in the western hemisphere. Today, due to hunting and habitat encroachment, this animal is found primarily in the Andes region of South America, parts of Canada, and the western United States. These big cats play an important role in the ecosystem, helping to naturally control populations of white-tailed and mule deer.
The puma, mountain lion or cougar is brown or tan in color with short to medium-length fur, depending on the climate in which it lives. Fully grown pumas can be anywhere from 6 to 9 feet long and weigh between 60 and 90 pounds.
Pumas are reclusive animals and prefer to avoid contact with man. They are most abundant in mountain ranges and in dense forests, and are also found in desert regions.
The main diet of the puma consists of deer, elk, moose and bighorn sheep. Pumas will occasionally eat beavers, birds and coyotes as well.
Reproduction and Lifespan
Pumas have litters of one to three babies, known as kittens or cubs. The cubs live with their mother for approximately 16 months before venturing off on their own to establish hunting territories. The lifespan of an adult puma is approximately 12 years.
Encounters between pumas and humans in the wild are rare, but they do occur. Pumas are easily frightened by loud noises and will usually retreat unless they feel cornered or threatened. Never approach puma kittens as this will cause the mother to attack in order to protect her babies.
- Photo Credit puma image by Vely from Fotolia.com