Puma is also called the mountain lion, cougar, or panther (Eastern US). Puma belongs to the family Felidae of 37 cat species including cheetah, puma, jaguar, leopard, lion, lynx, tiger and domestic cat. The scientific name for this big cat is Puma concolor. The name Puma is a native Peruvian term. The puma has the widest distribution of any New World mammal.
FACT 1: The jaguar and puma are the only large cats of the Western Hemisphere.
FACT 2: The puma habitat extends from South Eastern Alaska to Southern Argentina and Chile. Their habitats include desert scrub, chaparral, swamps and forests. They avoid agricultural areas, flatlands or any other habitat lacking cover.
FACT 3: The species name concolor means of one colour. It refers to the puma’s fur which is uniformly brown on the back, sides, limbs and tail. The shade of brown varies geographically from grey to reddish brown and some black puma have been reported. Facial colour patterns are also variable. The underside is lighter and the tail is tipped with black.
FACT 4: The puma has a long tail that is generally held close to the ground when walking. An adult male puma weighs on an average 62kg but has a tail that is .75 meters (2.5 feet) long, as compared to the 150-225 kg African lion with a 1meter long tail, or the 300 kg Siberian tiger whose tail is also 1 meter long.
FACT 5: Though the average weight for an adult male puma is 62 kg, some puma have been known to exceed 100 kg. The male puma is about 1.2 meters long including the .75 meter long tail. Females are shorter and weigh 42 kg on an average. Puma living near the equator are generally smaller than those that live further north or south.
FACT 6: Puma are solitary and secretive animals and are rarely seen in the wild. They hunt at night. Their prey is usually hoofed animals larger than themselves. Each puma kills about 48 hoofed animals a year. In addition they kill a large number of smaller animals like rabbit, hare, coyotes, bobcats, porcupines, beavers, opossum, racoons and skunks. Young males who have recently separated from their mothers do prey on domestic livestock. Puma do not feed on carcasses they have not killed.
FACT 7: Puma do not live in dens like bears do. The make day beds on the move. The daybeds are primarily for rest, protection from the weather and bringing up the young. No prior preparation goes into the making of a daybed. Daybeds differ in different habitats; they could be in a cave, under a fallen tree or under large roots.
FACT 8: The international shoe, clothing and sportswear brand, Puma, has a leaping puma as its logo. This position signifies the puma’s strength, agility and awesome ability to jump. It has powerful legs that enable it to leap 30 feet from standstill or 15 feet straight up a cliff wall.
FACT 9: Puma cannot run as fast as their prey. They depend on speed and stealth to bring down prey. They spring on their prey from cover, usually from behind the prey. Though they are elusive and avoid humans, about 4 puma attacks are reported a year, and one fatality. The US department of Fish and Wildlife has recommended certain precautions to avoid attacks. These include supervision of children, hiking in groups. If close to an attack an aggressive human response can avert the attack. Pepper spray will also work!
FACT 10: Puma that survive the first two years of life can live for about 10 to 12 years in the wild. In their natural environment they are killed by other puma or their prey. But the main killers are humans. The puma population is estimated at 2000 to 2500. In Florida they have been listed as endangered. One subspecies listed endangered in 1973 was declared extinct in 2011.