Mountain Lion (Puma (Felis) concolor)

Eastern mountain lions, also called pumas or cougars, were last officially seen in Connecticut near the end of the 19th century. A threat to livestock, they were hunted out of the state and driven to parts more wild. With land cleared for farms and factories (nearly the entire state was deforested at the turn of the 20th century), there was no place for big cats to hide and nothing for them to feed on. They disappeared not only from the Connecticut landscape but from the northeastern U.S. in general. Although we’ve exhibited these magnificent creatures in the past, the mountain lion is not currently on exhibit at Connecticut’s Beardlsey Zoo.

Description: 

Tawny to buff to bluish gray along the back and sides, with a lighter colored underside, a black-bracketed nose, and a dark-tipped tail. Height: 2 - 2.5 feet at shoulders. Length is  3.5 - 5.5 feet, with a 2 - 2.5-foot tail length. Weight: 110 to 180 pounds for males; females weigh slightly less. Mountain lions have powerful limbs and can leap as high as 15 feet and as far as 40 feet. They are considered the largest wildcat in North America. 

Habitat: 

Mountain lions generally exist wherever deer are found.  Suitable habitat consists of mountains, hilly woodlands and swamps. Dense vegetation, rocky crevices and caves may be used as temporary shelters.

Range: 

The mountain lion has the largest range of any mammal in the Western Hemisphere. They are found from British Columbia and southern Alberta to California and Texas. Small populations can be found east of the Mississippi River. In South America, mountain lions can be found as far as Argentina.

Diet: 

Mountain lions eat large mammals such as deer and smaller mammals such as mice, squirrels, porcupines, raccoons, rabbits and beavers.

Life Span: 

About 12 years in the wild; up to 25 years in captivity.

Family Life: 

Mating season generally lasts from December to March but can happen at any time during the year. Gestation: 82-96 days. Females have two to four kittens, which the mother raises alone. The kittens nurse for two months. They will remain with their mother for 1 ½ - 2 years. Males that enter another male’s territory have been known to kill the kittens so that females will be more willing to mate.

Status: 

Least concern. Three subspecies of the mountain lion are listed as endangered: the Florida panther, Costa Rican puma and the Eastern puma.