Cougar

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Range
Canadian Yukon to Western U.S. to tip of South America. A small protected population in Florida. Formerly distributed across North, Central, and South America.

Habitat
The mountain lion has the greatest natural distribution of any mammal in the Western Hemisphere. Adaptable to most habitats: Forests (coniferous and tropical), prairies, deserts, swamps, rocky terrain with low shrub growth, grasslands, brush country- any area with adequate cover and prey.

Distinguishing Characteristics
Eyes: young - blue; juvenile - black; adult - yellow
Black spot above the eyes are retained throughout development.

Dietary Classification
Diet in the Zoo: commercial feline diet (meat), rabbits, rats and meat bones.

Diet in the Wild: small and large mammals (including mice, rabbits, deer, guanaco, feral pigs), insects and amphibians They are opportunists and will eat almost all animals in their habitat. Most consistently important prey throughout their range is deer, but cougars are known to eat around 50 different species of animals.

Life Span
captive records show 18-20 years (avg. 15 years)

Behavior/Adaptations
Hunting strategies: Mountain Lions silently stalk their prey and can remain motionless for extended periods of time. They can leap vertically 15 feet and horizontally 30 feet.

MISC.:
Other names for cougar:
Puma, mountain lion, catamount, panther, painter lion, Mexican lion…

Importance:
For years these animals were thought to wreak havoc on deer populations, when actually the opposite is true. The loss of mountain lions in an area can cause deer populations to increase unchecked leading to over population, illness and starvation in deer herds. Mountain lions help naturally cull deer populations.

Status
Three subspecies of the mountain lion are endangered and listed on CITES I: 1- Florida panther (P.c. coryi) Estimates are between 30-50 remain. 2- Eastern Cougar (P.c. cougar) Until recently, thought to be extinct, but there have been recent sightings in New England. 3- Coast Rican or Central American puma (P.c. costaricensis) All other subspecies are listed in CITES II and officially listed as threatened. Cause of decline: habitat destruction and hunting.