Mountain Lion

The Mountain Lion is also called a cougar, puma, panther, or a catamount. It lives only in the Western hemisphere--it can be found from Canada to the top of South America. This animal is North America's biggest cat: more than 8 feet in length and weighing about 150 pounds. Mountain lions are usually brown or light-cinnamon in color with black tips on the tail and ears. Some adults are gray and young mountain lions may be spotted. Their eyes are clear and yellow. Mountain lions have strong legs with 4 toes on their back paws and 5 toes in the front! They also have claws that can retract into the paws.

The Mountain lion lives in many different habitats. They have been seen in moist jungles, cool mountain areas, deserts, and even coastal wooded forests. Mountain lions are fast hunters with very sharp vision. They eat wolves, deer, wild hogs, racoons, rabbits, and birds. The Mountain lion hunts at night, usually alone, throughout its territory. Males usually control about 20 square miles while females hunt in 10 square miles. Both use their strong legs to track and follow their prey, springing on it from up to 40 feet away.

This animal is very secretive. It spends most of its life alone, meeting only to mate and produce offspring. Often humans live close to mountain lion territory without ever being aware of the animals. Female mountain Lions start to look for a mate at about 2 or 3 years old. Breeding can happen all year long. Females carry their offspring for 3 months and then give birth to 2 or 3 live kittens. The kittens are born in a den, where they are fed on milk produced by the mother. After 6 weeks, the mother will take the kittens to feed on meat she has killed. After 2 years, the kittens can hunt and care for themselves.

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