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Meet the Mountain Lion!
Here you will find facts about the mountain lion (Puma concolor), also known as the cougar, puma, panther, catamount, or painter.
Learn about its physical traits, habitat, range, behavior, diet, tracks, and signs.
You'll also find pictures of mountain lions and their kittens.
Physical Appearance of Mountain Lions
What do mountain lions look like?
The adult mountain lion is a large, unspotted cat with a uniform tannish, reddish, or grayish coat with a paler color on its belly. The throat and chest, as well as some areas of its face, are a creamy whitish color.
The tip of its tail is black and there are black markings on its face and ears. The head is small with short, rounded ears.
Mountain lion kittens have black or brown spots and dark-colored rings around their tails. These markings disappear as the kittens get older.
More Facts about Mountain Lions
Size, weight, and life span
The male mountain lion can be up to eight feet in length, including the tail, which is usually 2-3 feet in length. The female tends to be somewhat shorter - up to seven feet in length.
The male mountain lion can weigh up to 250 pounds. The female usually weighs somewhat less than the male.
The mountain lion's life span is approximately 12 years in the wild, although they have been known to live up to 20 years in captivity.
Range of the Mountain Lion
In times past, the mountain lion had a wide range throughout the Western hemisphere. Today, their range and population has been much diminished, now being found only in the western states of the United States, the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, and much of South America.
In addition, there is a small population of Florida panthers (Puma concolor coryii), a subspecies of the mountain lion ((Puma concolor), in southwest Florida.
Although there have been reported sightings in the eastern part of the U.S.and eastern Canada, there is some controversy as to whether there are any breeding populations in those areas.
Mountain Lion Range Map - .
Creative Commons photo from
Mountain Lion Habitat
Where does the mountain lion live?
Due to its great adaptability, the mountain lion is found in almost every type of habitat, from northern woodlands to deserts to rain forests.
Although not required, both cover for stalking and the presence of large prey species make a particular habitat attractive to the mountain lion.
The Mountain Lion's Diet
What does a mountain lion eat?
Mountain lions are carnivores and eat both larger animals such as deer and elk, as well as smaller animals, including porcupines, squirrels, foxes, skunks, coyotes, prairie dogs, raccoons, beavers, rabbits, javelinas, armadillos, birds, snakes, and rodents.
Mountain lions also occasionally prey on livestock such as cattle and sheep. In some areas, wild hogs are part of their diet. They are even know to eat insects such as grasshoppers.
Food sources vary depending on the habitat and geographical region.
Mountain Lion Behavior
The mountain lion is a solitary and elusive creature, keeping very much to itself. It avoids contact with humans and even with its own kind.
The male is found in the company of the female only during mating season. And, of course, the kittens stay with their mother until they are able to take care of themselves.
Mountain lions can become habituated to people in areas where there is more human contact, such as certain parts of California. In this case, the mountain lion can be a danger to people.
Information about Mountain Lion Tracks
Describes the tracks, gaits, scat, marking sign, and feeding sign of the mountain lion, as well as similar tracks. Includes photos.
Excellent resource for pictures of mountain lion tracks. Includes over 50 photos, with some tracks in the snow as well as some on bare ground.
Photos and facts about the mountain lion's tracks, gait, stride, scat, and scratches.
Provides detailed illustrations as well as photos of both cougar tracks and dog tracks, and explains the difference. Also shows domestic cat tracks and fox tracks. Don't miss the videos about half-way down the page.
Safety During Mountain Lion Encounters
What to do when encountering a mountain lion
How to prevent an unwanted encounter and what to do if you meet a mountain lion. Includes illustration of life-sized front paw track.
Precautions to take when in mountain lion country and how to behave if you encounter this creature.
Provides tips for hiking in cougar country and for avoiding confrontations with cougars. Also gives information on how to protect your pets and includes illustrations of the cougar's paw prints and gait.
Offers advice about mountain lion encounters and gives the statistics for attacks on humans in the U.S., Canada, and separately in the state of California. Includes descriptions of each attack and what was done to fend off the attack.
Statistics demonstrate the relatively few mountain lions attacks that have occurred between these dates. Follow link for tips for dealing with mountain lions.
Mountain Lion - Scientific Classification
Mountain Lion Taxonomy:
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Chordata
Class - Mammalia
Order - Carnivora
Family - Felidae
Genus - Puma
Species - Puma concolor (Mountain Lion)
Spirit of the Rockies: The Mountain Lions of Jackson Hole - By Cara Shea Blessley and Thomas D. Mangelsen
Most books about mountain lions contain only photos of this animal in captivity. Spirit of the Rockies is one of the rare books where all of the photos are of mountain lions in the wild. Mangelsen, a well-know wildlife photographer, lived near a family of mountain lions and documented their lives over a 42-day period. This book is a result of that experience.
Either in the wild or in a zoo...
Have you ever seen a mountain lion?
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