Lee Richardson Zoo
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Puma

AKA Mountain Lion, Panther, Cougar

Order: Carnivora—felines, canines, bears, raccoons, mustelids, seals, etc.

Family: Felidae—Cats

Scientific Name:  Puma concolor

 

PumaDescriptionThe largest of the “little cats,” the puma may be distinguished by a relatively small head; short, round, black ears; a long well-furred tail that has dark bands and a black tip; and a white or buff belly.  General coloration is solid and ranges from buff to tan or gray, and even black and bluish gray.  Juveniles have dark spots on their coat that fade when the individual is approximately 6 months old.  Total length (including tail) may be 7-9 feet.  The tail alone may be over 3 feet in length.

 

RangeHome Range:  Historic range included most of the
Western Hemisphere from Southern Canada to the tip of South America.  Range is now restricted to fragmented patches In the Western United States, Texas, Florida, and South America.

 

Habitat Type:  Any habitat that provides some cover and an ample supply of deer.

 

Reproduction:  Though pumas breed throughout the year, April and May appear to be the peak months in North America.  Females generally breed once every two years.  Gestation lasts about 93 days, after which a litter of around three kittens are born with eyes and ears closed.  Eyes are open after two weeks and kittens begin eating meat around 6 weeks of age, though they are not weaned until 12 weeks.  After about 2 months, the mother and her young abandon the den, and the kittens remain in temporary shelters while the mother hunts.  They begin to hunt with their mother when they are half grown (6 months) and losing their juvenile coloration.  Young normally stay with their mother until they are two. 

 

Diet in the Wild:  Mainly deer, but porcupines, rabbits, hares and rodents are also taken.

 

Diet in the Zoo:  Processed carnivore diet (Nebraska brand), occasional bones.

 

General Information:  Pumas are excellent athletes and can jump as high as 18 feet from the ground.  They can swim, but avoid water if possible.  Though sight and hearing are acute, their sense of smell seems to be limited.  Older puma usually stay in established territories, but younger animals are generally transitory.  The last confirmed presence of a puma in Kansas was in 1904, though transient cats may be following riverbeds through the state.  Populations have recently been confirmed in both Missouri and Oklahoma.  Generally thought to avoid humans, human-puma encounters have been increasing due to encroachment by people on puma habitat.   Though stable over most of their range, the Florida subspecies is highly endangered.  Most states allow controlled hunting of puma, though California allows no hunting and Texas places no restrictions on puma hunting.
             
Predators:  Wolves are their only natural predator.

 

Bibliography

Mammals in Kansas.  James W. Bee et al. 1981. University of Kansas Press. Lawrence, Kansas. Pp. 214-216.

 

Walkers Mammals of the World Volume I. Sixth Edition. Ronald M. Nowak. 1999. Johns Hopkins University Press. Baltimore, Maryland.  Pp. 808-809.