The Lion of the Mountains
a male cougar can weigh up to 200 lbs, this animal is considered one of the
smaller great cats of the world and is
known across it by many different names. Cougars are often times referred to as
pumas, mountain lions, Mexican lions, red tiger, deercat, mountain devil, king
cat, silver lion, mountain screamer, catamount or panthers (Florida) and their
habitats used to be widespread all over North and South America from southern
Argentina, through the US, all the way up to northern British Columbia.
Nowadays, because of hunting and
the disappearance of habitats due to human progress, they are forced back into
more mountainous and less populated areas.
cougar’s natural habitat includes but is not limited to: Tundra, taiga,
temperate forest & rainforest, grasslands, desert, tropical savanna and of
course mountains. They are carnivores that are active both day and night and
their prey consists of a variety of mammals, birds and fish. If larger animals
such as white-tail deer, caribou and moose are not available, the cougar is able
to adapt quickly and switch to smaller prey such as raccoon, skunk, birds and
fish. The ability to adapt to different circumstances has saved Felis concolor
from becoming extinct.
can range in weight from about 150 lbs. to 200 lbs and their coat ranges from a
brownish-yellow to grayish-brown color with a lighter shade of color on their
belly. Felis concolor means “cat of one color”, however their color varies
depending on their habitat. In the
colder areas, their coat will be more gray in color, in the warmer regions their
coat leans more to a reddish brown. Unlike popular belief, there exists no such
thing as a black panther. Melanistic cougars do not exist, they are a legend and
when people refer to black panthers, they actually mean black leopards or black
jaguars that do exist in nature.
have a pink nose and the back of their ears and tip of their tail is black.
Their tail can be almost as long as their body length and is used for balance.
Their back legs are more developed than their front legs which allows them to
ambush their prey and jump on their
backs to go in for the kill. The strong muscle development in the back also
enables the cougar to maneuver in the more difficult mountainous areas and steep
solitary animal, the male cougar does team up with different females during
mating season which is usually from December through March. Females can
reproduce up to the age of 12 years, where males can be reproductive up to the
age of 20 years. The female can give birth to 1 - 6 cubs at a time and the cubs
have blue eyes with a spotted coat, which gives them a better camouflage for
their protection while they’re young. The spots and blue eye color disappear
after approximately 6 months. The only time you will see a cougar that is not
alone, is when mom has cubs that she keeps with her for up to 12 months until
they go out on their own. The average life span of a cougar in the wild is 10-15
years, in captivity cases have been reported up to 25 years of age.
Florida Panther: Puma concolor coryi
Florida Panther was first placed on the endangered species list in 1967.
Conservation efforts have only recently become significant to ensure that the
animal will not become extinct. For example, similar to the initiatives taken
for the preservation of African Cheetah's in the wild, a program is in effect to
combat the problems associated with inbreeding due to low population. To
increase genetic variation in the current population of Florida Panthers they
are being introduced to Texas Cougars in the wild, which is another subspecies
believed to be closest related to Felis concolor coryi. It must be said however,
that the biggest threat to the Florida Panther still remains man, whether
indirectly or directly affecting the animal population in the state. When we
build housing development
distinguishes the Florida Panther from the other cougars?
First of all, the Florida Panther is the smallest of the
cougars. Their body length can be anywhere between 6 or 7 ft. and they weigh
anywhere from 90 to 150 lbs. The females are usually smaller in size than the
males. This animal has much shorter and coarser hair with a deeper brown color
than the regular Puma concolor. Along the back of the animal,
the coat is normally more reddish and they have a spot in the middle of
the back that is characterized by a thick concentration of darker hair that is a
clear pattern break from the rest of the coat. In addition to that, the cat has
irregular white spots on it's head, neck, and shoulders and the tail has a right
angle hook at the end of it. In order for a cougar to be considered a Florida
Panther, all of the above characteristics need to be present together as some or
all of them are not found in the regular species.
when you go out there on your wildlife tours, and someone claims to have a
Florida Panther, look for the above characteristics and ask about it. Now you
*Thanks to Brigitte Ivory for the information contained on this page
copyright © 2001 Wildlife Survival Sanctuary Inc