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Mountain Lion (Felis concolor)

Natural History

The Mountain Lion (also known as the Cougar, Panther or Puma) is the largest cat in the Sonoran Desert. Females typically weight about 75 pounds, while the males can weigh up to 145 pounds. Kittens are born with spotted coats, which they keep for about the first three months. Adults have tawny brown coats and a heavy tail with a black tip. They can grow to 6 feet in length, not including their tail which can add another 3 feet. Mountain Lions are found in a variety of habitats including: mountain forests, riparian canyons and Sonoran Desert uplands (basically any area which supports sufficient populations of prey species).

I have yet to see a Mountain Lion in the wild. The photos on this page were taken at the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum.

Mountain Lions are carnivorous and mainly feed on deer, but will also hunt javelina, bighorn sheep, jack rabbits, porcupines, squirrels and other small mammals. The lions hunt by slowly sneaking up on its prey. They need to get close to their prey before pouncing due to the fact that they have a small heart and lung for their size, making them unable to run for long distances. The cats breed at 2-3 years of age and produce a litter of 3-4 kittens. The kittens remain with the mother for about a year, after which time they head off to find their own territory. Historical studies have shown the cats each had ranges of 25 square miles, but human encroachment has begun crowding the animals into smaller and smaller areas, increasing competition and forcing them into contact with people on a more frequent basis.

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