Species / International Ovis
The cougar has the most extensive natural distribution of any wild mammal in the western hemisphere. Cougars are found only in the western hemisphere. At one time their North American distribution extended from coast to coast and from northern British Columbia to Panama. Today, they occur in the southern half of British Columbia, southwestern Alberta, the western United States from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific, and throughout Mexico and Central America. There also are local populations.
Cougars are solitary, seeking company only during the brief courtship period. Males are territorial, actively maintaining and marking their home ranges, which are typically 25-35 square miles. There is no fixed breeding season, but most births take place in late winter or early spring. Females usually give birth to 3-4 kittens (range is 1-6) every other year. The kittens are spotted until about six months of age. They remain with the mother for 1 1/2 to 2 years, and are sexually mature at 2 1/2 to 3 years. Life expectancy is about 12 years. Cougars are entirely carnivorous. The cougar's usual diet is deer, but it also kills elk, pronghorn antelope, mountain sheep and (during times of scarcity) smaller animals such as rabbits, porcupines and rodents. It sometimes kills domestic animals, particularly sheep, which has made it unpopular with ranchers and caused it to be treated as vermin until fairly recently. The cougar can purr, and may hiss and snarl when cornered. However, normally it is silent. Eyesight is excellent, and hearing and sense of smell are good. The cougar is largely nocturnal and is shy, alert and elusive. It is not aggressive toward humans, but attacks do occur, especially in areas where cougars have been allowed to overpopulate. It generally avoids water, although it swims well. Superbly athletic, cougars have been known to leap 27 feet horizontally, 18 feet vertically, and 60 feet downward without harming themselves.
Super Ten®/Super Slam®: For the Super Ten®/Super Slam® only North American cougars are allowed. Information found here contains excerpts from the on-line and printed version of Safari Club International (SCI) Record Book of Trophy Animals and is used by permission. Visit www.scirecordbook.org.
The cougar has many common names. It is called puma in Latin America and in most of the world outside the United States and Canada. It is also sometimes called panther, American lion or catamount in parts of the U.S. Of course, the most common names for this amazing cat are cougar and mountain lion. Adult North American cougars are 6-8 feet in length, including 28-36 inches of tail. Weight is 100-150 pounds, and occasionally much more. Females are about 40 percent smaller than males. The cougar is the second-largest cat in the western hemisphere. It is roughly the same length and height as the North American jaguar, but slimmer and more lightly built, with long legs, a comparatively long neck and a head that is remarkably small for such a large cat. The coat is thick and soft. The tail is long and cylindrical, and covered with thick fur that becomes thicker at the dark tip. There are two color phases, which may vary seasonally. One ranges from buff to reddish-brown, the other is a dull shade of gray. The flanks are paler than the back, merging into white underparts.