Cougars are one of the largest cats you can find in the United States! You can even find them here in Arkansas! They used to be more abundant from Canada to South America as well as from the Pacific to the Atlantic, but since European settlement in the United States, the population has seen an extreme decline almost completely gone by the 1900s. By the 1960s they were given game-mammal status. This led to the slow increase of their population.
They live in diverse ranges of habitats, such as forests, deserts, and mountains. They have been known to enjoy the rough and rocky terrain where the vegetation is low but dense. These cats are territorial, with males of about 150 square miles. The males will even go as far as walking the perimeter of their territory to protect it. Typically there are fights to defend the territory if another male is spotted. Females have a less distributed territory of about 50 square miles, and they don’t tend to actively defend it like males. Due to a female having such a small territory over a male, a male will tend to have about 3 females in his territory.
Cougars can grow to be pretty large, the largest member of the cat family that is located in North America! They can weigh anywhere from 80-200 pounds! From the tip of their nose to the tip of their tail, they are about 7-8 feet in length! That tail takes up most of its body, it’s a 1/3 of its body size!
Cougars have quite a few different nicknames; it really just depends on where you are from. They have roughly 50 different names, but you sure can tell why they have the nickname mountain lions! With short, coarse fur that is cinnamon to a grayish color, its almost the same color as actual lions! They are even born with spots that begin to fade after the first few months of life, just like a lion!
Deer are their primary source of food, but they’re not afraid to prey on others mammals like sheep, rabbits, skunks, etc. They are ambush predators, meaning they patiently wait behind the vegetation, and when ready to pounce, they attack their prey! They can jump 20 feet up into the air and about 40 feet straight out! Their bite is also deadly; they break the neck of their prey and drag their food to a secluded area. In one setting, they eat about 20 to 30 pounds, then bury it under dirt, snow, or leaves to return and eat the rest later!
If you want to come see some of these magical creatures, we do have some cougars that call Turpentine home! Sasha lives down at Rescue Ridge, which you can see on a unique “Behind the Scenes” Tour. Marissa and Louisa live in the Discovery Area just down the bear tunnel. Stop on by and venture down that bear tunnel and see who you can see! You might even see one of them stalking you, ready to pounce!