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cougar lifespan

cougar lifespan

cougar lifespan

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cougar lifespan
cougar lifespan

Cougar (Puma concolor)


Kingdom:  Animalia
Phylum:  Chordata
Class:   Mammalia
Order:  Carnivora
Family:  Felidae
Genus:  Puma
Species:  Puma concolor

Conservation Status in Idaho

Least Concern

Range and Habitat

The cougar historically, has the largest range of any large wild terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere, extending from the Yukon in Canada to the southern Andes of South America. An adaptable, generalist species, the cougar is found in every major American habitat type including montane coniferous forests, lowland tropical forests, grassland, dry brush swamps and any area with adequate cover and prey.

Physical Features

Males:  80–265 lbs (36–120 kg)
Females:  65–140 lbs (29–64 kg)

Males:  Head/Body, 3.3–5 ft (1–1.5 m) | Tail, 2.2–3.2 ft (0.68–1.3 m)
Females:  Head/Body, 2.8–4.3 ft (0.86–1.3 m) | Tail, 2.1–2.6 ft (0.63–0.79 m)

Cougars are large, slender cats with short coarse fur ranging from yellow brown to gray brown. The belly, throat, chest and neck tend to be lighter and whitish. The eyes of mature animals are grayish brown to golden. The tail is long, cylindrical, and about one-third of the animal’s total length. The limbs are short and muscular, with broad feet and retractable claws.


Primary food sources include ungulates such as deer, elk, moose, and bighorn sheep, as well as domestic cattle, horses and sheep, particularly in the northern part of its range. It will also hunt species as small as insects and rodents.


Mountain lions may live up to 18 to 20 years in the wild. They can live slightly longer in captivity.


Females reach sexual maturity between one-and-a-half to three years of age. They typically average one litter every two to three years throughout their reproductive life, though the period can be as short as one year. Gestation is 82 to 96 days with litter size is between one and six cubs but more commonly two or three. Mating occurs throughout the year however in northern regions mating is concentrated between December thru March.

Social Behavior and Interaction

Cougars are solitary animals that live within home ranges marked by scat and urine. Cougars in northern regions will have summer and winter home ranges. They are primarily nocturnal. Cougars rely mainly on vision, smell, and hearing. They use low-pitched hisses, growls, purrs, yowls, and screams in different circumstances. Loud, chirping whistles by young serves to call the mother. Touch is important in social bonding between mothers and young.

Major Threats

Cougars are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation and poaching of their wild prey base. They are also persecuted across their range due livestock depredation and fear that they pose a threat to human life. Heavily travelled roads pose a major barrier to cougar movements and dispersal.

Mountain Lion


The mountain lion—also known as the cougar, puma, panther, or catamount—is a large cat species native to the Americas. Mountain lions are large, tan cats. Their bodies are mainly covered in tawny-beige fur, except for the whitish-gray belly and chest. Black markings decorate the tip of the tail, ears, and around the snout. Mountain lions vary hugely in average body size depending on geographic location—their size is smallest closer to the equator and largest closer to the poles. Generally, though, males weigh between 115 and 220 pounds (52 and 100 kilograms) and females weigh between 64 and 141 pounds (29 and 64 kilograms).

cougar lifespan
cougar lifespan


The mountain lion’s range spreads all across the Americas, from the Canadian Yukon to The Strait of Magellan, the greatest of range of any living mammal in the Americas. Mountain lions inhabit a wide range of ecosystems, making their home anywhere there is shelter and prey, including mountains, forests, deserts, and wetlands. They are territorial and have naturally low population densities, which means the species requires large swaths of wilderness habitat to thrive.


Mountain lions are stealthy predators, hunting at night and often lying in wait for prey or silently stalking it before pouncing from behind and delivering a lethal bite to the spinal cord. Typically they prey on deer, but also feed on smaller animals, even insects, when necessary. Like all cats, mountain lions are strict carnivores, and they only rarely consume vegetation.

Life History

Mountain lions can breed year-round. Female mountain lions usually give birth every two years. Litters can range in size from one to six cubs. The young may stay with their mother for as long as 26 months, but usually separate after about 15 months. In the wild, a mountain lion can live up to 10 years. In captivity, they can live up to 21 years.


The historic range of the mountain lion included almost all of North and South America. The species was so wide-reaching and populous that it had multiple subspecies that varied based on location. Throughout the 1800s and early 1900s, people feared the mountain lion because it posed a risk to their livestock. The species was maliciously hunted and almost eradicated from the eastern United States. Due to conservation efforts, mountain lion populations in the western United States are stable, although far lower than they were historically. While there are still several thousand mountain lions in the wild, their population has significantly decreased from their historical population due to unsustainable hunting, habitat destruction, and conflicts with livestock.

Fun Fact

Unlike other large cats, they cannot roar. Instead they growl, shriek, hiss and purr, similar to house cats. Mountain lions are territorial and solitary. They use pheromones and physical signs (like claw markings or feces) to define their territory.


Animal Diversity Web, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology

umbrella species

Mountain lions are an “umbrella species” for conservation because their conservation depends on the preservation of large amounts of habitat. A mountain lion usually requires about 13 times as much area as a black bear or 40 times as much area as a bobcat to thrive. By preserving enough wilderness to support a stable mountain lion population, countless other species of plants and animals that share mountain lion habitat benefit.

cougar lifespan
cougar lifespan

The eastern cougar, a subspecies of mountain lion, was declared officially extinct by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in 2011, although individuals from western populations have been confirmed to wander as far as the East Coast. Florida panthers, the other U.S. subspecies of mountain lion, are listed as critically endangered on the endangered species list.

Learn more about our work through our Save LA Cougars campaign.

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