Habitat & Range
Cougars can be found throughout North America from southern Alaska to South America. They have the most extensive distribution of all North American terrestrial animals. Due to human encroachment, they are now more limited to mountainous and uninhabited terrain.
The cougar is a large cat covered in tawny colored fur. It is the second heaviest cat in North America, weighing an average of 137 pounds. It has a long (25 to 37 inch) tail that assists in balance. The cougars can jump 18 feet vertically and up to 45 feet horizontally. It is adept at climbing, helping it to hunt an evade predators. Although it is not often associated with water, it can swim.
Cougars subsist on a variety of prey from small rabbits and squirrels to large deer. They prefer to hunt deer because it is more energy efficient and yields a larger amount of meat in one effort rather than hunting many rabbits. Cougars are extremely efficient hunters, they like to stalk their prey and pounce on it from as far as 30 feet away.
Reproduction & Lifespan
Cougars only come together for purposes of mating, which can occur year round. Males usually find a mate who’s range overlaps his own. The gestation period is about three months, after which 3 or 4 cubs are born. Female cougars average one litter every 2 to 3 years throughout their reproductive life.
Life expectancy in the wild is reported to be 8 to 13 years. In captivity they can live up to 20 years.
Fantastic Fact Identity Crisis
With over 40 names in English alone, the cougar holds the Guinness record for the animal with the highest number of names. The reason for numerous names is presumably due to its wide distribution. The most common names are mountain lion, puma, catamount, and panther.
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