An impressive cat of the Americas, the cougar is known for its amazing adaptability. It has over 40 names, and despite being a skilled hunter and a member of the cat family it is usually not included with other larger cats. Read on to know about some interesting facts about the cougar.
The cougar is a powerful and graceful creature that belongs to the Felidae family. A native of America, it is an extremely skilled predator that can hunt on a large variety of prey, ranging from small insects and rodents to elk, deer and domestic cattle.
Cougar’s grace and strength has always been admired by the native American groups. Cuzco, the city of the Incas, is reported to have been designed in the shape of a Cougar and the Incas are believed to have named their people and regions after this animal.
Cougars, also popularly known as the Mountain Lions are solitary animals that hunt during dusk and dawn. Known to be fiercely territorial, the males often engage in fierce battles.
Facts about Cougars
Due to its high adaptability, the cougar is the most widely distributed wild animal in America. In fact, other than human beings, no other land mammal occupies as much territory as this Mountain Lion.
Owing to its wide range of habitat, the cougar is known by a number of names like panther, puma, yuma puma, Florida Panther, Catamount, Mountain Lion and Mountain Screamer. However, it has over 40 names in the English language. For this feat, it holds a Guinness record.
It is the heaviest cat in America, second only to the jaguar. Worldwide, it is the fourth heaviest cat with the other big cats like the tiger, lion and jaguar ahead in the race.
Despite its strength and hunting skills, the cougar is often not included among the big cats. This is because it can’t roar, and its physical make-up is more like smaller cats.
Cougars are extremely agile creatures. Their long hind limbs allow them to cover a distance 40 feet in a single leap. In this regard they are second only to snow leopards that are known to cover a distance of 45 feet at one go. Their large feet help them jump up cliffs that are even 18 feet high.
These wild cats are very territorial. They attack any one who they consider to be an intruder into their land.
British Columbia is also known as the ‘Cougar Island’ because of the highest number of cougar attacks reported there.
While the male is also referred to as Mountain Lion, the females are called she-Mountain Lions.
On an average, only one out of six cougar cubs survive to reach adulthood.
There is a difference in the structure of the voice box or the larynx, because of which the cougars can’t roar. They produce a high pitched scream. This shrill scream has earned them a place in American folklore.
Due to its tail that helps it maintain balance and its sleek built body. Cougars are believed to have shared their ancestry with the cheetahs. However, there is a lack of evidence to provide credence to this theory.
Cougars are solitary hunters that live in pairs during the mating season.
These cats are stalk and ambush predators. They first bring down their prey with their remarkable athleticism and then kill them with a lethal bite to their neck.
If these cats can’t finish their kill at one go, they hide their meal under leaves or behind the bushes to return to it later.
Despite their great hunting skills, these Mountain Lions are not apex predators. They are under constant threat from jaguars and bears. This stress had helped them evolve into excellent swimmers and climbers.
A hybrid of cougar and a leopard is known as a pumapard. The hybridization was done in the late 1890s and early 1910s in Germany.
Despite their great adaptability, the population of this magnificent animal is fast dwindling. The main reason behind this is loss of its habitat and prey. Also conflicts with human is a threat to their survival, as human beings keep pushing into their territory constantly. However, the cougar has made a comeback in the state of Wyoming where its population is the highest.