Appearance

Mountain Lions, also known as pumas, panthers, painters, catamounts, and cougars, are the largest wildcat in North America. They are also the largest of the “small cats,” which is the subfamily Felinae. Only three of the “big cats” in the subfamily Pantherinae are larger than mountain lions: tigers, lions, and panthers.

Being “small cats” means that mountain lions can’t roar, but they can purr. They also have a well-known scream, which you can listen to in the “Sounds” section of this page.

As their species name suggests, mountain lions have basically single-color tawny coats, with lighter patches on the muzzle, throat, and belly.

Mountain Lions in this ecosystem

Mountain lions have filled a variety of roles in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Wolves have taken the apex predator role mostly because they hunt in packs. Grizzlies are capable of taking kills away from both wolves and mountain lions.

DIET

Mountain lions can take down prey significantly bigger than they are. In Yellowstone, their preferred prey is elk, but they are perfectly happy eating deer, moose, bighorn sheep, pronghorns, squirrels, and birds. With larger prey, they stalk the animal and then leap onto its back and kill it with a bite to the back of the neck. They are one of the few predators in this area that make a meal out of porcupines, flipping them onto their backs to get at the unprotected bellies.

At the Sanctuary, our mountain lion gets a variety of meats and bones.

BEHAVIOR & Lifespan

In the wild, mountain lions typically live for about 8-10 years.

Our Mountain Lion

Taxonomy

KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Carnivora
FAMILY: Felidae
GENUS: Puma
SPECIES: concolor

conservation status

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Least Concern

MOST ACTIVE

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Nocturnal

SOUNDS

  SACAJAWEA  was found in a window well outside of Bozeman in 2007. Her mother had been killed, and Sac was an orphaned, starving, kitten. She was transferred here for long-term care.

SACAJAWEA was found in a window well outside of Bozeman in 2007. Her mother had been killed, and Sac was an orphaned, starving, kitten. She was transferred here for long-term care.

 

Mountain Lion-Related Episodes of our Podcast