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Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Genus: Puma
Species: P. concolor
Binomial name
Puma concolor
(Linnaeus, 1771)
Cougar range map

Felis concolor

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, including Alaska and Florida, and most of Central and South America. Cougars 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.[source?] Although pumas are very large and some are larger than humans, the puma is classified is a small cat. That means that, in scientific terms, the puma is more closely related to the Domestic Cat than they are to Lions. Unlike the big cats in the genus Panthera, the puma cannot roar. Instead, it can growl, hiss, screech, and purr. Since pumas are, in the biological sense, small cats, they are capable of purring continuously. The big cats can only purr while breathing out.

Cougars 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. Cougars 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.

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.

School Mascots

Schools that have a cougar for a mascot include:

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