(Puma concolor)

Common Names:

“Concolor” is Latin for “one color”

English – Puma, Mountain Lion, Panther

French – Puma

German – Puma, Silberlowe

Columbia – Lēon sabanero

Spanish – Léon, Léon colorado, Léon de montaña

Brazil – Onca vermelha, Onca parda, Sucuarana

French Guiana – Tigrouge

Guarani – Guasura, Yaguá-pyta

Mayan – Cabcoh

Mexico – Leopardo

Surinam – Reditigri


Felidae; member of the cat family


P.c. borbensis – Central Amazonia

P.c. californicus – California,Mexico

P.c. cougar – Northeastern US, Southeastern Canada

P.c. concolor – Guyana

P.c. coryi – Florida

P.c. costaricensis – Central America

P.c. hippolestes – Wyoming, Idaho

P.c. kaibabensis – Arizona

P.c. oregonensis – British Columbia

P.c. schorgeri – Mississippi

P.c. stanleyana – Texas, Northeastern Mexico

P.c. acrocodia – Paraguay, Bolivia

P.c. anthonyi – Venezuela

P.c. bangsi – Northern Andes

P.c. greeni – Eastern Brazil

P.c. hudoni – Argentina

P.c. osgoudi – Bolivian Andes

P.c. pearsoni – Chile, Argentina

P.c. puma – Central Chile, Agrentina

Related Species:

Jaguar, Jaguarundi, Ocelot, Margay Cat


Head and body 42-54 inches long; tail 30-36 inches long; height at shoulder 26-31 inches.


80-200 lbs


Same size as a leopard – smallest as the equator and growing larger as approach either pole; coat length is longer in the north; its solid color varies from slate gray to yellow buff to light reddish brown; small broad head with small rounded ears; long, black tipped tail; large feet; proportionately longest hind legs of the cat family; faint horizontal stripes may appear on upper forelegs; melanism is common while albinism is rare; eyeshine is greenish gold.


Wild – 8-10 years; Captivity – up to 21 years


Includes Southwestern Canada, the western United States and Mexico, down into western South America; historical distribution included every major habitat type in the Americas, now essentially eliminated from Eastern North America; small, endangered population in Florida; extirpated from much of its range in Canada, now only found in Southwester British Columbia; in NE United States, hundreds of sightings reported but no verified population has been found; Central Plains region boasts only a few, rare residential populations; in the US west, numbers are recovering.


Found in mountain forests at 16000 ft down to lowland swamps and grasslands; ranges from arid deserts to tropical rainforests to cold coniferous forests; will withstand heavy ground cover and very open lands; occasionally found in areas of intense agricultural cultivation or human habitation due to human encroachment; recently, as the deer population has recovered, multiplied and spread, the puma has colonized areas outside its original range, including the Great Basin Desert in the US Southwest.


30-50 cougars in Florida

3,500-5,000 left in SW British Columbia

10,000 cougars live in Western US

0.5-4.9 puma/ 100 sq km in North America, lowest in arid regions

7 puma/ 100 sq km in Patagonia

4.4 puma/100 sq km in the Brazilian Pantanal


Primarily solitary and nocturnal.

Secretive and seldom seen.

Most at home on the ground, but will climb trees.

Dens in any concealed, sheltered spot.

Typical home ranges vary from 32-100 sq km.

A male’s home range can be 100 sq miles while following prey in the winter.

Male’s territory will overlap with several females’ smaller territories.

Mark the boundaries with tree scrapes and sprays.

Distinctive call likened to a woman’s scream.

Leaps can reach over 40 feet.

Intraspecific (within species) conflict mortality increases where there is competition for land and prey.


Reproduce year round.

Estrus lasts for 8 days.

Felames will usually only breed with one male.

A 2:1 ratio of femal:male breeding adults.

High pitched call/ scream associated with courtship.

Gestation lasts for 87-95 days.

Litter size averages 2-3 kittens.

Usually one litter every 2 years.


Litters born year round, most commonly in warm months of spring.

Kittens are spotted with blue eyes.

67% of cubs survive to dispersal in a non-hunted population.

Reach sexual maturity after 2 years.

Breeding age dependant on establishing a territory, usually 3-4 years.


Hunt alone by day or night.

Preys on deer, sheep, rodents, rabbits, hare, beaver, insects, birds, mice, porcupine, capybara, pronghorn, wapiti, big horn sheep, guanaco, moose, deer, and tapirs.

In tropics, feed mainly on medium-sized prey due to competition with jaguars.

Mountain living cats follow migrating prey.

Caches extra food in dense undergrowth, returning over several days.

Rarely feed on carrion killed by other animals.

Uses the strength of hind legs to lunge at prey with single running jumps.

Human Interests:

Reputation for attacking domestic cattle and horses.

Panther is the Floridastate animal – creating great public support for the effort to save these cats.

Across America, ranchers continue to see as a threat and eliminate them.

Attacks on humans are increasing because humanity is encroaching further on their habitats, therefore cats live closer to settled areas.

However, human attacks are infrequent when compared to other human hazards in nature (there are more people struck by lightening each year than attacked by pumas).

There is genuine public support of the cougar in most of North America, signaling a major change in attitude.

If you come into contact with a wild cougar, DO NOT RUN. Stop, make yourself seem as big as possible (raise your coat or shirt, hold branches over your head, ect), do not look at its eyes, look at its feet, and slowly back away. Cougars do not see humans as food and will not usually challenge what looks like a formidable force.

Florida Population:

30- 50 Florida Panthers survive in the wild, the only puma population left in Eastern North America.

Once found throughout the Southeastern US, but disappeared from most areas by the 1920’s.

Florida was one of the first states to offer any legal protection in the 1950’s.

Protected areas have been established, however, cats still lost to road-kills on highways, eating prey contaminated by pollutants and pesticides, and the hostility of private landowners.

Very high levels of mercury were found in two dead Everglade panthers.

Between 1979 and 1991, half of the known deaths were road-kills (11 out of 22).

One sub-population in Everglades National Park became extinct in 1991 when the last two females died, leaving only one male.

Inbreeding and a lack of genetic diversity are a serious problem even if remaining cougars are saved.

Pure P.c. coryi pumas suffer from: 95% abnormal sperm count, crytorchidism (1 or 2 undescended testicles), heart murmurs, vaginal fibropanleukopenia, and exposure to domestic animal-borne diseases like feline panleukopenia, rabies, feline HIV and parvovirus from a decreased immune response due to genetic homology (very low genetic diveristy).

Using a South American sub-species to supplement the genetic diversity may improve the situation, but controversial.

State erected fences and underpassed, as well as a captive breeding program are helping.

The little suitable habitat that remains is greatly fragmented and largely owned by hostile private landowners.

Population is unlikely to survive for another 30 years with prevailing demographics and genetic conditions.

However, this crisis has created a great pulling together of people, resources and communities beginning in 1976.

Reintroduction looks like the best alternative – two releases with a total of 16 cats seemed to be successful, but now most have been recaptured due to conflicts with humans.


P.c. cougar, P.c. costaricensis and P.c. coryi are listed at endangered in North America and are on the CITES Appendix I.

“Least concern” listing in other areas.

Numbers greatly reduced by hunting and trapping.

Particularly vulnerable because they return to kills that may be poisoned and climb trees rather than run when chased by dogs.

Severe reduction in ungulate populations by hunting and forest clearing destroyed their prey base in much of the puma’s historical range.

Natural adult mortality is below 5%, however, sport hunting mortality is 63% or higher in adult males.

A recent change in management status from varmint to game animal has seen a rise in numbers in the Western US.

Hunting is prohibited in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, French Guiana, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Surinam, Venezuela, and Uruguay.

Hunting is regulated in Ecuador, El Salvador, and Guyana.

Canada: protected in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Yukon, and some of the Northwest Territories; hunting regulated in Alberta and British Columbia.

United States: eastern puma fully protected under the Endangered Species Act; western puma only fully protected under the ESA in South Dakota and California; hunting regulated in AZ, CO, ID, MT, NV, NM, OK, OR, UT, WA, and WY; not legally protected in Texas.

In California, voters narrowly approved an initiative banning sport hunting of cougar in 1990 and allocating $30 million each year for 30 years toward preservation of habitat.

Interesting Facts:

Extremely successful generalist – able to survive the Pleistocene extinctions of other large North American felids.

Although classified as a large cat, more closely related to the small cats.

Cannot roar – a purring cat .