Top 20 Facts About Cougars
If you happen to see one of these magnificent creatures, chances are, you instantly want to know all of the facts about cougars that are available. Depending on geography, these stunning felines are also called pumas, mountain cats, mountain lions or panthers. Below are the top 20 most interesting facts about cougars.
- These are reclusive cats that avoid contact with humans as much as possible. Although there have been reported attacks, they are extremely rare.
- While they were extirpated in eastern portions of North America, they are now known to be recolonizing in Michigan, Indiana and Maine.
- Cougars typically mature between five and nine feet long from nose to tail.
- Males usually weigh under 200 pounds but some have been reported weighing more than 250 pounds. Females average 93 pounds but can weigh up to 142 pounds.
- One of the more interesting facts about cougars is that the ones that live closer to the poles are much larger than those that reside by the equator.
- Cougars are considered ambush predators and will eat basically anything they catch from large ungulates to small insects.
- Favorite food varies by location but the most popular choices are white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, moose, domestic horses and cattle, ungulates, bighorn sheep, armadillos and feral hogs. Other listed prey includes hares, porcupines, mice, small reptiles and birds.
- Females reach sexual maturity roughly around two years old but some may take until they are three.
- Only female cougars parent their young and they are fiercely protective of anything coming close, regardless of size. She will even fight off a grizzly bear.
- In the wild, life expectancy is between 8 and 14 years however, a female was killed on Vancouver Island that was believed to be 18 years old.
- Mature cougars have no predators other than humans.
- One of the most intriguing facts about cougars is something that has been witnessed and studied at Yellowstone National Park. Cougars and gray wolves are very competitive for territory and food. While cougars are traditionally more powerful than wolves and will usually win in a one on one battle, the pack nature of the wolves scares the cougar to stay away.
- Some areas protect cougars while others do not.
- In mythology and ancient history, the cougar is a creature of strong symbolism. It represents grace and power and Cusco in Peru is even shaped like the animal.
- In the rare cases that cougars attack humans, the majority have been children. They almost always employ the neck bite that they are so well known for, piercing into the spinal cord through the vertebrae. Most attacks end in death.
- When faced with a cougar, you should never run or “play dead” but rather hold eye contact and shout at it in a loud but calm voice.
- Cougars are extremely territorial animals. Males have been known to claim an area up to 386 square miles.
- These cats have exceptionally powerful hind legs which makes them extraordinary jumpers. They can jump up to 18 feet high and 45 feet in front of them. They have excellent balance and agility and even excel at swimming.
- Female cougars typically produce between three and five offspring per litter. They are weaned within three months but they stay with their mother until they are at least one year old. Offspring are referred to as kits. They are born covered with spots but they loose their markings before they are one.
- The population of cougars has drastically declined in Canada and the United States due to land development and lost habitat.