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Largest North American Cat: Mountain Lion (Cougar)
Puma concolour

The Ghost Cat

Mountain lions are generally secretive, solitary and elusive. Most people never see this animal in the wild. In fact, both field biologists and outdoor recreationists rarely see mountain lions, even in habitats that support relatively dense populations. That is why it has come to be known as the "Ghost Cat". The fact that this animal is rarely seen by humans in its native habitat gives the false impression that there are very few of them, when quite the opposite is true. The California Department of Fish and Game puts their numbers at about 5,100 adults ranging over a habitat of about 80,000 square miles

Photo of Mountain lion pairAs their numbers increase we are beginning to see more of them encroaching in areas used or inhabited by humans as more of them are pushed to the fringes of their range seeking new territories. It appears that the available habitat for this native carnivore is approaching critical densities.

Adult cougars stand about 60 to 76 centimeters (2.0 to 2.5 ft) tall at the shoulders. The length of adult males (toms) is around 2.4 meters (8 ft) long nose to tail. Males typically weigh 53 to 90 kilograms (115 to 198 pounds), averaging 62 kg (137 lb). On rare occasions, there have been cats as large as 120 kg (264 lb). Females typically weigh between 29 and 64 kg (64 and 141 lb), averaging 42 kg (93 lb)

A mountain lion can drop silently from a height of 60 feet and land running. They can leap 15 feet upward and on

An adult male lion requires up to a 100 square mile area for its range and habitat. There are as many as 10 lions per 100 square miles along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range in California.

Listen to a cougar growl

Listen to a cougar purr

A scientific review of records on attacks by mountain lions on humans in the United States and Canada from 1890 through 1990 indicated there were 53 mountain lion attacks on humans during this period; nine attacks resulting in 10 human deaths, and 44 non-fatal attacks.

The largest carnivorous cat in north America is known by many names; mountain lion, cougar, puma, and panther, catamount, painter and by its scientific name - Puma concolor. In fact, it holds the Guinness World record for the most number of names - 64 names, including many in other languages

Puma concolor is the largest of the 'small cats' and is not included with the 'big cats' because of its inability to roar. Mountain lions make little noise in the woods. They make vocalizations, but they are more similar to the sounds domestic cats make, such as purrs, chirps, whistles, hisses, and growls


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