September 26, 2012

Wildlife Wednesday: Puma Concolor

The Puma, cougar, mountain lion, Florida panther, or red tiger has a plethora of names, including his scientific title: Puma concolor. They are the fourth-largest species of cat on earth, they are the most widespread of the American cats, and they have the largest distribution of any western hemisphere mammal, as they reside all across North and South America. They also hold the record as the mammal with the most names.


Interesting Puma Facts

·    Pumas are fiercely territorial with a territorial range of 200 square miles. It is     because of this reason that the puma population is declining with the destruction of  their natural habitat.
·    The puma is an expert hunter and can jump to a height of more than 6 meters or close to 20 feet. It can also run very fast and can climb trees with ease.
·    A puma is even capable of killing a prey three times its own body weight.
·    The hind legs of the puma are longer than the forelegs.
·    Pumas have very strong eyesight.
·    The mating call of the puma is a harsh scream.
·    The Florida panther, one of the sub species of puma, is an endangered animal.

Basic Facts About the Puma


·    Pumas belong to the family Felidae and the scientific name of the species is Felise concolor.
·    The puma is known by many other names like cougar, mountain lion, American  lion,deer tiger, red tiger, panther and catamount.
·    There are 6 subspecies of pumas.
·    The puma is characterized by a small head, short face and a long tail.
·    Their coat color varies widely from tawny brown to pale gray to reddish-brown. The color of the coat is darker on the back and lighter on the chest and inner sides of the legs. The tip of the tail is black.
·    Pumas have four toes with retractable claws.
·    The average length of a puma is around 200 cm or 6 feet with a tail that is as long as 80 cm.
·    An adult male weighs around 140-200 lbs while the female weighs about 90-120 lbs.
·    Pumas are solitary animals and are generally found in mountainous regions. This is why pumas are also referred to as mountain lions.
·    Pumas have no specific mating season and they breed any time during the year. The female puma gives birth to 3 to 5 cubs after a gestation period of 80-96 days.
·    Puma cubs are blind at birth and the mother starts feeding them meat when they are around six weeks old.
·    The young ones of the puma have a spotted coat and the spots disappear once they are six months old.
·    The female puma tends the young ones till they are 2 years old. However, the cubs learn how to hunt prey by the time they are nine months old. After 2 years, the young ones leave their mother in search of territory.
·    Pumas become sexually mature once they reach the age of 3.
·    Today, the major threats or causes for the rapid decline in puma population are as follows.
o   Destruction of their natural habitat
o   Territorial conflict between males
o   Inbreeding within a small gene pool
o   Poaching and hunting by man
o   Environmental pollution
o   Disease
·    The life expectancy of the puma is about 20 years.

Puma Habitat and Feeding Habit Facts


·    The Puma is a wild cat found in the Americas.
·    Pumas are the most widespread species among all wild cats. Pumas are one of the few animal species found across a wide geographical region.
·    The habitat of the puma or mountain lion varies from deserts to grasslands to mountains and forests.
·    Pumas are found in parts of Asia, the Americas and Africa.
·    The puma usually hunts and feeds on small prey such as deer, smaller mammals, wild sheep, rabbits, raccoons, antelopes, rodents and birds.
·    Pumas are nocturnal hunters with very strong eyesight which helps them see their prey in the dark.
·    Pumas are powerful animals that secretly lay in wait for their prey to come close enough. Once the prey is within its reach, the puma pounces on the hapless animal and bites it on the neck to kill it immediately.
·    Pumas can feed on a carcass for days on end. Once they hunt down a prey, they keep the carcass safely hidden from scavengers.
·    Pumas hunt their own prey and never feed on prey killed by other predators.

Today, the puma is protected in most North American and South American countries. Steps are being taken to save this beautiful wild cat from extinction. Recently, the increase in the number of whitetail deer in the US has raised the possibility of sustaining the population of pumas.


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