Mountain Lion Definition | Characteristics & Facts

Mountain Lion

Mountain Lion Definition

A mountain lion, also known as a cougar, puma, or panther, is a large and powerful wild cat native to the Americas. It belongs to the Felidae family and is one of the most widely distributed land mammals in the Western Hemisphere.

Mountain Lion General Characteristics & Facts


Mountain lions are large cats, with males typically being larger than females. Adult males can measure up to 8 to 9 feet (2.4 to 2.7 meters) in length, including their long tail, and weigh between 120 to 220 pounds (54 to 100 kilograms).


They have a short, tawny, or reddish-brown coat with a white underbelly. The coloration provides good camouflage in their natural habitat.


Mountain lions have distinct, round eyes with excellent vision, especially in low light conditions. Their eyesight is vital for hunting and locating prey.


They have small, rounded ears with acute hearing, which helps them detect prey and avoid potential threats.


Mountain lions have a long, muscular tail that can be up to a third of their total body length. The tail aids in balance and serves as a counterbalance during high jumps.


Mountain lions can be found in a variety of habitats, including forests, grasslands, deserts, and swamps. They are highly adaptable and can thrive in both mountainous and lowland regions.


Mountain lions are solitary animals and are most active during dusk and dawn. They are skilled stalkers and ambush predators, often relying on stealth and surprise to catch their prey.


Their diet consists mainly of deer but can include a wide range of animals, such as elk, moose, smaller mammals, and occasionally domestic livestock.


Mountain lions communicate using various vocalizations, including growls, screams, and purrs. They also use body language and scent marking to establish territories and communicate with other individuals.

Conservation Status

Mountain lions are not considered endangered on a global scale. However, their populations face localized threats due to habitat loss, human-wildlife conflicts, and illegal hunting in certain areas.

Human Interactions

While mountain lions generally avoid humans, encounters can happen in regions where their habitat overlaps with human settlements. Attacks on humans are rare but can occur, especially when a mountain lion feels threatened or cornered.

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Physical Characteristics of Mountain Lion

The physical characteristics of a mountain lion, also known as a cougar or puma, include:

  1. Size: Adult male mountain lions can measure around 7 to 9 feet (2.1 to 2.7 meters) in length, including their tail, which can be about 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to 0.9 meters) long. Females are slightly smaller than males.
  2. Weight: Adult mountain lions typically weigh between 100 to 200 pounds (45 to 90 kilograms). However, some larger individuals can weigh up to 220 pounds (100 kilograms).
  3. Coat: They have short fur that is usually tawny or reddish-brown in color. The coat may have variations, and some individuals can appear more grayish or silvery.
  4. Underbelly: The underside of the mountain lion, including the chest and belly, is lighter in color, often a creamy white or light gray.
  5. Eyes: Mountain lions have round, yellowish, or amber-colored eyes with excellent night vision, which aids in their hunting abilities.
  6. Ears: They have small, rounded ears with tufts of dark hair on the tips.
  7. Facial Features: Mountain lions have strong, powerful jaws and sharp teeth suitable for hunting and tearing apart prey.
  8. Claws: They possess retractable claws, which help with gripping and climbing.
  9. Tail: Mountain lions have a long, thick tail that helps with balance, especially during quick movements and jumps.

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Scientific Classification of Mountain Lion

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Felidae

Genus: Puma

Species: Puma concolor

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Mountain Lion FAQs

What does Mountain Lion eat?

  1. Deer (their primary prey)
  2. Elk
  3. Moose
  4. Bighorn sheep
  5. Small mammals like rabbits, hares, and rodents
  6. Birds
  7. Occasionally, they may prey on livestock or pets if living near human settlements.
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