Puma Fact File
Scientific name: Puma concolor
Distribution: From the northern Yukon in Canada (North America) to the southern Andes in South America
Habitat: Although he prefers dense bush, this cat can adapt to every habitat type within his region
Prey: Pumas need to eat meat to survive. They mainly eat mule deer, white-tailed deer and elk, but also take bighorn sheep, wild horses of Arizona, hogs, armadillos, mice, porcupines, beavers, raccoons, hares, birds and small reptiles
Number of kittens in a litter: 1-6
Lifespan: 13 years
Conservation status: Least concern
A highly adaptable cat, the puma is found in a wide range of habitats across North and South America. Also known as the cougar, mountain lion or catamount, the puma is a large cat of the subfamily Felinae.
Although not nearly as big as the world’s biggest cats, the puma is the second heaviest cat of the Americas. This secretive cat sports a slender but powerful body, large paws and very strong hind legs, giving him the ability to leap as high as 5.5m and a powerful sprint over short distances. He has a plain coat colouring, mostly tawny, but it can also range from silvery-grey to reddish. Kittens are born spotted and have ringlets on their tails, but these fade as they grow older.
Unlike other big cats such as lions, leopards and tigers, pumas do not roar. They are solitary animals. In Canada male pumas have territories ranging from 150 to 1,000km2, while those of females are much smaller.
The pumapard is the result of a puma and leopard mating. In the late 1890s and early 1900s, a man named Carl Hagenbeck bred three sets of this hybrid in his animal park in Hamburg, Germany. Most of the animals died very early on in their lives, but one was bought by the Berlin Zoo. Due to their line of genetics pumapards will always be born with some form of dwarfism, which is likely to have resulted in their early deaths.