Physical Characteristics of
the Cougar
Although the cougar is called a mountain lion, he is not related to the African lion, but rather to the cheetah.

SIZE -  The cougar is a long, sleek, muscular animal. "It appears thin and flat-sided, and its chest is narrow. It may stand two feet(0.61 meters) or more at the shoulder and an inch or two taller than that in the rear because of its powerful hindquarters. Its elegant tail, which makes up about a third of a mountain lion's total length, is cylindrical and about the thickness of a child's arm.From the tip of its tail to the end of its nose, a male mountain lion may measure six to eight feet(1.83 to 2.44 meters). Females are smaller, averaging five to seven feet(1.52 to 2.13 meters)"(Grambo,1999)".

COLOUR -  Latin name Felis concolor refers to a cat of one color. Adult cougars are reddish-brown to grey (darker along the back) and white or pale brown on the underside. The muzzle, tip of tail, and behind the ears are black.

LONG  TAIL -  The average tail-length of a male cougar is 34.7inches(88cm); females 30.7 inches(78cm). Lynx and Bobcat have short tails, but the cougar's tail is long, cylindrical and has a black tip on the end.

WEIGHT -  In Canada, males average 60 to 100kg, maximum 136kg(176.4 lb); females are less. Food abundancy is a large factor in determining growth and size.

CLAWS & TRACKS - Tracks are approximately 10cm by 10cm with 4 toe marks and rarely claws. All cats except cheetah have retractable claws, which help grapple and hold onto prey. Cougar have retractable claws and can therefore, hunt prey much larger than themselves.

KITTENS - The young have spotted coats and ringed tails that bear more resemblance to their cheetah cousins than to their parents. They begin to lose their baby spots around six months, and become a solid color. "...Two to three kittens comprise the average litter, although there is record of six in a litter from Utah"(Busch 1996). The female raises her kittens alone, avoiding the males for fear of them killing the kittens. Young siblings often travel together.
    Experts believe the presence(sighting) of kittens is the most determining factor in determining resident versus migrating cougars.
Photo:Turpentine Creek Refuge
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