Pumas (Puma concolor), also called cougars or mountain lions, are large wild cats that live on the west coast of Canada, in the western half of the United States, and Florida, and most of Central and South America. Pumas are mainly tan-coloured, and can be up to 9 feet long although average length is 6 – 8 feet. They can weigh from 29 kilograms to 90 kilograms. (The males are larger.) Most pumas live 21 years.
Pumas are carnivores because they eat only meat. They hunt deer, raccoons, squirrels, foxes, rabbits and skunks. They can also eat mice, beavers, coyotes, birds and porcupines. They hunt at night. Cougars can see better at night than people can. They can hear well too. Pumas stalk their prey. That is, they walk slowly and quietly, they hide and then when close, they jump or run fast to catch their prey. They live and hunt alone. Female cougars take care of their babies until they are old enough to fend for themselves. Baby cougars are called cubs or kittens.
Cougars live in the mountains and forests far from people. However, encounters with humans do happen sometimes. Cougars have been known to attack humans. 26 people have been killed by cougars in North America in the last 30 years. However, what cougars have done to people is nothing compared to what people have done to cougars. Cougars used to be found all over eastern North America. However, they were hunted to extinction there by the beginning of the 1900's. However, recent sightings of cougars have been reported from Michigan, New Brunswick, southern Indiana, Kentucky, and Vermont. For now, the only confirmed, unambiguous population of cougars east of the Mississippi River is in Florida, where a subspecies of the cougar called the Florida Panther lives.
Schools that have a cougar for a mascot include:
- Brigham Young University (Cougars)
- College of Charleston (Cougars)
- Chicago State University (Cougars)
- Eastern Illinois University (Panthers)
- Florida International University (Panthers)
- Georgia State University (Panthers)
- High Point University (Panthers)
- University of Northern Iowa (Panthers)
- Pennsylvania State University (Nittany Lions)
- University of Pittsburgh (Panthers)
- Prairie View A&M University (Panthers)
- Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (Cougars)
- Washington State University (Cougars)
- Alvarado Middle School (Cougars)
Puma for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.