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Cougar

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Cougar
Example.jpg
Scientific Classification
Subspecies

Introduction

Cougars go by many names including puma, mountain lion, catamount, deer tiger, indian devil, and panther. Cougars are one of the smaller "big cats" but are one of the deadliest. Their hunting success rate is almost double that of the other "big cats". Another thing that separates them is that the cougar can actually be as active in the day as they are at night. They use to live almost everywhere in the Americas but they are now absent from Eastern Canada and Eastern United States. They are the subject of many indian myths because of their ability to appear and disappear so quickly and quietly. If one sees a human in the woods it will most likely walk in the other direction before the person even knows its there. However, if the cougar is hungry enough it may stalk a human and even attack it. The way a cougar attacks its prey is to stealthily stalk it and then leap onto its back from twenty feet or closer. Then, when it has its victim down to the ground it sinks its canines into the back of the neck, killing it instantly. Cougars will eat just about anything from a deer to an insect if hungry enough. Female cougars are able to make a high pitch noise that has been described as "demonic".2

Body Design

Description

The puma, also known as the cougar, mountain lion and panther, is powerfully built and extremely agile.[1]They are large slender cats characterized by a long body with long hind limbs that are thought to be the source of bursts of high-speed running and jumping used to chase and ambush their prey.[2]Cougars have a long neck, their throat and chest are a whitish color. They have, a small broad head, a light pink nose with a black border that extends to the lips. the area behind ears, and the tip of tail are black.The feet are broad, with four digits on hind feet and five on forefeet. The pollex (meaning:the innermost digit of a forelimb, esp. the thumb in primates.) is small and set above the other digits. The retractile claws are sharp and curved. with canines that are heavy and compressed there prey is no match. The incisors are small and straight helping grinding their food into smaller pieces. Mountain lions have one more small premolar on each side of the upper jaw than bobcats and lynx. The fur color typically ranges from a yellow-brown to gray-brown on the upper parts of the cougar and a paler, almost buffy, color on the belly. the fur has a short and course texture.Faint horizontal stripes may occasionally be seen on the upper forelegs, and melanism (meaning:unusual darkening of body tissues caused by excessive production of melanin, esp. as a form of color variation in animals.) has been widely reported though not confirmed.Young kittens are spotted, with blue eyes,the eyes of mature mountain lions however are grayish brown to golden. The males are larger than the females however Males rarely weigh more than 100 kilograms, and depending on sex and age, tend to be larger in the north of their range, and the coat is generally longer to insulate against extreme temperatures.

Life Cycle

Description

Mountain Lions are relatively uncommon. They are secretive and carnivores and prey on a variety of animals; some favorites include deer and wild hogs. Other prey animals included in this cats diet are rabbits, jackrabbits, and rodents and don’t forget the occasional human when they are extremely hungry.[3]Some cougars occasionally also kill livestock or dogs. they tend to be solitary, except during breeding. The breeding season tends to occur between December and March with litters of up to 6 cubs being born after a three month gestation period, generally between February and September. [4]After mating, the male and the female part ways and he will continue to mate with other females for the duration of the season. Births can occur any time of year, but most litters are born from June to September at least in North America.


Like numerous other felines, Puma cubs are born blind and are completely helpless for their first two weeks of life until their blue eyes fully open.[5] Female cougars usually breed every two to three years. Unlike the adult Pumas, cubs are born with spots on their fur which helps them to be more easily camouflaged from hungry predators.They are able to eat solid food when they are between 2 and 3 months old and remain with their mother for about a year. The kittens are taken of milk at about the age 3 months, but stay with their mothers, dependent on her hunting skills, until around age 2. [6]Males don't contribute to raising the young and may kill any kittens they find.Female cougars reach sexual maturity after 1 1/2 years. Surviving to adulthood is low for cougar cubs, with an average of only 1 per litter reaching adulthood.Many of them live to be an average age of 12 years old but they have been known to reach 25 years old in captivity.

Ecology

The cougar species is found in a broad variety of habitats, including all forest types as well as lowland and montane ( meaning: of or inhabiting mountainous country) deserts. Several studies have shown that a habitat with dense understory vegetation is preferred, although , cougars can live in very open habitats with only a minimum of vegetative cover. [7]Pumas are capable of taking on large prey, but when available small to medium-sized prey those end up being more beneficial in their diet. In North America, deer make up 60-80% of a cougars diet. cougars are highly adaptable, found in a diverse range of habitats, from arid deserts to tropical rain forests even to a cold coniferous forest, from sea level up to 5,800 metres in the Andes. [8]In Florida, however, where deer numbers are low, cougars take on smaller prey including pigs, raccoons and armadilllos, and deer account for only about 1/3 of the diet. Although terrestrial, pumas can swim and climb trees when they need to. Mountain lions inhabit most terrestrial habitats from deserts to humid coast range forest from sea level to even 10,000-foot elevations. [9]Mountain lions thrive in large, wild landscapes, which support their large home ranges where the prey that they feed on are. Some cougars live in both wetlands and drylands. Typically they prefer areas with lots of cover but they can live in either. The panther is a good swimmer and often moves between wetlands and drylands.

Behavior

Description

By nature, cougars prefer to avoid contact with humans at all costs.In fact, upon seeing one cougars usually run. At the same time, cougars have a curiosity not unlike that of house cats. The possibility of triggering this curiosity should reinforce the necessity of taking caution when living or hanging around in cougar country. Understanding the behavior of these animals can greatly minimize the potential of coming into contact with one of nature’s greatest predators. Fears can be eased with a better understanding of these environments.[10]rogue male cougars often travel hundreds of miles before finding a available area that is unoccupied by another cougar. rogue cougars are particularly at risk of coming into conflict with resident cougars and with human interests. Resident male cougars will attempt to scare off and even kill in defense of their home ranges. a large percentage of cougar attacks on livestock (and people) are by one- to two-year old cougars.[11]

Video

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References

  1. Puma concolor ‘'animal diversity web. Date of access May 29 2014 (specify which). Author Unknown
  2. Puma ‘’arkive. Date of access may 29 2014. Author Unknown
  3. Mountain Lion ‘'Texas Parks and wild life . Date of access May 29 2014. Author Unknown
  4. Puma ‘’a-z animals. Date of access May 29 2014. Author Unknown
  5. The Biology of Cougars in Manitoba ‘'nature north. Date of access May 29 2014. Author Unknown
  6. Puma Unknown. Date of access May 29 2014. Author Unknown
  7. Puma Concolor ‘’Red List'.Date of access may 29 2014. Author Unknown
  8. Puma Concolor Arkive .Date of access may 29 2014. Author Unknown
  9. Puma Concolor animal diversity web .Date of access may 29 2014. Author Unknown
  10. Understanding Cougar Behavior ‘'cougarfund. Date of access may 29 2014. Author Unknown
  11. Cougar Biology & Behavior ‘’western wildlife outreach. Date of access may 29 2014. Author Unknown