Fun Facts About Pumas

Portrait of an adult male puma, with a GPS collar.
Portrait of an adult male puma, with a GPS collar.
Credit: Mark Elbroch

The puma is a big cat native to the Americas. It’s also known as the cougar, mountain lion, panther, or catamount. The animals are solitary, nocturnal creatures and very rarely attack humans. Adult males are around 8 feet (2.5 m) long including the tail and females average 7 feet (2.1 m).  Males typically weigh about 130 pounds (58 kg) whiles females are closer to 100 pounds (45 kg). Pumas typically don’t live past 10 years of age. In captivity, they have been known to live twice as long.

Pumas are usually tawny-colored with a round face and erect ears. They have very powerful jaws, neck and claws that help to pounce and catch their prey.  Pumas are predators who eat a wide variety of prey where they live including deer, pigs, capybaras, raccoons, armadillos, rabbits, and squirrels. The big cats stalk their prey and ambush when they are close.

Pumas have been known to eat sheep, horses and other livestock.  Subsequently, by the 20th century, pumas were eliminated from nearly all of their range in the Midwest and Eastern U.S. Most pumas now live in wilderness or protected regions on the Western half of the country.

Other facts about pumas

The puma can kill and drag prey up to seven times its own weight.

Mountain lion
A female mountain lion captured and collared in western Nevada for the field component of the study.
Credit: Jake Willers

The puma can be found from northern Yukon in Canada to the southern Andes. They are found in almost every type of habitat from lowlands to forests.

The Puma holds the Guinness record for the animal with the highest number of names. It has more than 40 names in English.

Kittens or cubs have camouflaging spots and rings around their tails that fade as they mature.

The puma is more closely related to domestic cats than true lions.

Pumas don’t really roar even though they are big cats. They prefer to make a series of sounds similar to whistles, squeaks and purrs.

Other resources:

National Geographic - Mountain LionASPCA - Hamsters

Smithsonian National Zoo - Big Cat Facts

Mountain Lion Foundation

San Diego Zoo - Mountain Lion

IUCN Red List: Puma concolor

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