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  • Cougar is the 2-nd largest representative of felines in inter-American region. There are many names of this predator, moreover, it is registered in the Official Guinness World Records as the animal with the largest amount of names (mountain lion, catamount, puma, red tiger, etc.).

    There are 6 subspecies of this animal. Cougars are rangy and agile cats, their body length is up to 100 -180 cm, height at the withers is from 60 to 90 cm, tail length is from 63 to 95 cm. Males’ average weight varies from 53 to 100 kg, females weigh is nearly two times less – from 29 to 64 kg.

    Cougar’s head is small, round with upright ears. Powerful forelimbs, neck and jaw serve to grasp and hold large prey. Beast’s paws are relatively wide, there are five retractable claws on the front paws, four – on its hind foot. Long muscular tail is pubescent evenly.

    Puma’s color is monochromic, but it can radically vary between individuals. Thick, short and coarse fur usually is dark yellow, silver-gray or reddish, with lighter spots on the body bottom, including the jaw, chin and throat. There are some black marks on the face. The ears have dark color, and the tail ends with a black tip. Cubs are born with blue eyes, dark spots and rings on their tails, that are fully vanish up to 2 years.

    Big feet (rear are significantly larger than the front ones) allow cougar to jump well (up to 5,5 m) and to run with a speed of 64 – 80 km / h, although the animal is more suited for short distances, but not for long chases. Puma climbs over rocks good and can, although not very like to do it, swim.

    In spite of its size, it is not in the list of “big cats” because it cannot roar, not having specialized larynx and hyoid apparatus like other representatives of Pantherinae subfamily have. Sometimes the animal hisses, growls and purrs, and can produce other sounds that mainly are comparable with domestic cats’ sounds.

    Cougars’ habitat stretches from the Canadian Yukon to the southern Andes of South America. Historically, the animal living area reached the southeast Alaska. In the United States and Canada, the cougar can be found mainly in the mountainous western regions. The animal is completely killed off in the eastern part of North America, except of a small population of subspecies of Florida panther.

    It is a single territorial animal that is more active at sunup and the end of the day. Mountain lion prefers places with dense vegetation, caves and rocky slots, but can live in open areas. The population density is low and depends on the terrain, accessibility to the prey and the presence of vegetation. Females’ areas and males’ one are in contact with each other.

    American mountain lions hunt mostly at nights, attacking from ambush. Their prey is any animal including domestic. The main diet point is ungulate. During the hunting, cougar kills more animals than it can eat, so it hides uneaten prey, and later returns for it. Puma’s matches are jaguars, wolves and bears. Cougars usually avoid people, although recent times their attacks on humans are more often.

    The breeding season of mountain cats is not expressed explicitly. Females reach sexual maturity at the age of about 2 years and have on average one kitten every 2-3 years during their reproductive period. Males’ fights accompany the courtship period. Gestation lasts about 91 days. There are from one to six cubs in the litter; kittens are born blind and absolutely helpless. Cubes have eruption teeth and opening eyes at 8-10th day and till 6 weeks they eat already not only milk, but also adult food; till 6 months panthers start to hunt for a small prey. They stay with mother for 2 years, and then go to search their own territory.

    The hunting for puma is forbidden almost everywhere and the number of animals is gradually recovering, but farmers continue to kill them off because of their harm caused for cattle breeding. Appendix I CITES has enrolled 3 subspecies of cougar, and Florida panther, as a species in a critical condition, is registered as endangered at the Red Book (87 individuals – 2003).