Pumas are exquisite cats and have other names like the panther, mountain lion, and cougar. Pumas are secretive cats that inhabit the mountains from South America to Canada. Although pumas are large, they share close relations with the smaller familiar cat species and comprise seven subspecies. These cats also quickly adapt to their various environments and live in many habitats. This article is a great place to start if you want to learn about pumas. From there, you can explore our “Up Next” section for related articles.
1. Pumas Are Known as Cats of One Color
Pumas have a thick fur coat that varies in color depending on their subspecies and location. Their fur ranges in color from brown-yellow to gray-red. For example, pumas living in colder areas are often gray. In contrast, pumas in warmer regions have a red tone to their fur. Pumas typically live in mountainous areas because their thick coat insulates them in cold temperatures.
These big cats have large paws and strong, muscular hind legs that are longer than their front legs. Because of this, pumas are more agile. Their eyes are large and wide set, which helps them see further than most cats. Pumas also have pointed ears that help them detect prey by sound to support their hunting techniques.
2. Pumas Live Throughout North and South America
Pumas prefer living in the rocky and mountainous areas of North and South America. They thrive in the rocky areas and pastures just below the mountains. Although they prefer living in these areas, pumas are adaptable animals and live in forests, jungles, grasslands, and desert areas. Their habitat has shrunken due to human development and expanding farmlands. Now, many pumas live in hostile mountainous regions.
3. Pumas Are Solitary Cats
These cats prefer to live alone and only share their space when raising their cubs. The average size of a puma’s home range is 80 square miles. This range is where pumas live and search for food, but this area decreases in size in the winter due to snow-blocking areas of the mountains. In some regions, the mountainous region may become inhabitable during winter. Then, the puma will move into the mountain forests and valleys to wait out the harsh weather.
If a puma enters another puma’s home range, the resident cat will warn the other with ominous sounds. Pumas have a selection of vocalizations and use these as warnings, and also to attract a mate during the mating season.
4. Female Pumas Give Birth to up to 6 Cubs
Female pumas are pregnant for three months before giving birth to a litter of up to six cubs. Pumas mate between December and March and give birth between February and September. The male has no parental duties, as they leave the female after mating. Puma cubs are born blind and are entirely dependent on their mother for the first two weeks of life before their eyes open.
Although pumas are known as cats of one color, puma cubs are born with spots, which help to camouflage and keep them safe. The cubs stay with their mother for their first year of life before leaving and venturing out on their own. Wild pumas live to 12 years, but captive pumas often live to 25 years old.
5. Pumas Are One of the Largest Carnivores in the Americas
These strong and agile hunters have a diet that consists of mice, rats, birds, fish, rabbits, raccoons, goats, sheep, seals, and deer. Pumas typically eat smaller animals, as they commonly live in forests on mountain slopes. When hunting bigger prey, like deer and sheep, the puma pounces on the animal’s back and kills it through a suffocating bite hold. Not many animals escape the puma during the hunt because of its speed and agility.
6. Pumas Face a Few Threats
Although the puma is typically the dominant predator in its environment, they face threats. Several puma threats include bears, wolves, or other pumas when injured or sick. Despite wild predators, their biggest threat is humans. Humans have traditionally hunted pumas for their thick fur. People are also behind the pumas shrinking habitats because of expanding farmlands and development. Additionally, many farmers shoot and kill pumas that hunt their livestock.
7. The Puma Is Not Classified as a Big Cat
Although the puma is one of the largest felines on the planet, it does not have a big cat classification because it cannot roar like lions and tigers. Being able to roar is a distinctive quality of the big cat family.
8. Pumas Are Not Endangered
The IUCN lists pumas as animals of least concern because of their strong ability to adapt to their environment. Their environments and habitats have shrunk, forcing them to move into more hostile areas. Usually, when this happens to a species, it will face declining numbers, but this has not happened with pumas. So, for now, pumas are still thriving no matter where they are, but one subspecies is endangered.
9. The Florida Panther Is Endangered
10. Attacks On Humans by Pumas Rarely Occur
The Florida puma, a subspecies of puma, is endangered because of a lack of habitat. This subspecies has been endangered since 1967. Pumas may easily adapt to their environment, but the Florida puma has not been lucky. Because its environment has declined so dramatically, this puma has not had enough time to adapt to rapidly dwindling food sources. Another reason its population has plunged is because of roads. Pumas are nocturnal and face threats of being hit by cars while hunting at night. Fortunately, conservation efforts are underway and have increased the population from a few dozen to over 120 Florida pumas in recent years.
The puma is a fierce predator, but it rarely attacks humans. There are almost 100 attack records on humans by pumas, but this has often been out of defense. Pumas typically only attack people if they feel cornered or threatened. However, there have been cases where a puma has attacked a person because of starvation. This type of incident is rare since pumas do not see humans as prey.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/SandmanXX
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- The Nature Conservancy, Available here: https://www.nature.org/en-us/get-involved/how-to-help/animals-we-protect/puma/
- Scientific American, Available here: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/pumas-react-to-humans-like-prey/
- JustFunFacts, Available here: http://justfunfacts.com/interesting-facts-about-pumas/