- Mountain Lions - Description
Mountain Lions are the second largest cat in the Americas, second only to the Jaguar (Panthera onca) that ranges throughout South America and can occasionally be found in the southwestern United States.
Size: Males are larger than females and with an average weight ranging between 100 - 158 lbs (45 – 72 kg) while females range between 54 - 89 lbs (25 – 40 kg). Exceptionally large males may weigh up to 265 lbs (120 kg).
Body length ranges between 79 - 89 inches (200 – 227 cm) in males and 68 - 81 inches (172 – 205 cm) in females.
Height: Male Mountain Lions reach 21 - 27 inches (54 – 68 cm) height at the shoulder and females may reach 17 - 24 inches (43 – 61 cm) at the shoulder.
Source: © Alan Carney/Corbis
Color: Adult Mountain Lions range in color from tawny gray, tawny red and several shades of brown. The back of the ears have black patches, while the front is white. White hair can be found around the mouth, underparts of the neck, chest, abdomen, legs and tail.
Source: © DLIILL/Corbis
Body: Mountain Lions have slender and muscular bodies, powerful legs and compact heads. The front legs are slightly shorter than the back legs and slightly heavier with larger pads.
The tail is long, up to a third of the total body length, and is used to balance the Mountain Lion during leaping, tree climbing and hunting.
Claws: Their claws are retractable and are used for self defense, prey seizing, tree climbing, and gaining traction on slippery terrain. Claw marks will rarely show on Mountain Lion tracks and, due to the tendency of Mountain Lions to place the back feet in the same place as the front paw tracks, tracks are often obscured.
Subadult mountain lions are considered to be those who are not under the care of their mother, leaving their mother at the average age of 18 months and dispersing in search of their own territory.
CUBS / KITTENS
Mountain Lion litters number 1 - 4 cubs, weighing an average of 18 oz (508g) and are born in dens placed among rocks, holes, crevices, overhangs and low vegetation.
The cubs are born fully furred with black spots on a brownish coat and bars on their tails. Their spots begin to disappear when they reach 2 months of age and may be hard to identify by the age of 6 months. Spots at the hip and leg areas may still be seen when they reach 8 - 10 months but usually disappear completely by 2.5 years.
Cubs are born with their eyes closed. Their eyes open between 5 - 19 days old, are not pigmented and appear blue. Eyes turn the amber brown of an adult at 5 months of age.
Source of photograph: © Beck Photography/Aurora Open/Corbis