General Cougar Infomation
General Cougar Infomation
You are on the main Cougar page in the predator section of the website! Follow the links to the left to discover facts, fallicies, safety precautions and more. All pertaining to cougars You are also encouraged to join the message board and post any questions or encounters you may have had with cougars / panthers.!!!
History - Cougars, the largest cat Still roaming naturally in North America, once ranged across the entire continent. Cougars are now and have been for 100 years officially absent from the eastern half of their range with the exception of South Florida. This near total decimation in the east came about over 100 years ago through fear and ignorance. Cougars were aggressively shot and trapped for fear of livestock loss as well as the general belief that they were just simply an all around danger and threat to humans.
This brings us to the first myth. Myth/misunderstanding number one is the confusion with naming. Cougars had a very large population range extending from coast to coast and from Canada all the way to South America. This extensive range led to the cougar aquiring quite a few common names. Catamount, painter, puma, mountain lion, cougar, panther, lion and florida panther are some of the most common ones. Each of these names refer to a single species, Felis concolor.
This plethera of names has lead many to believe that these do not all refer to a single species. Many for example do not realize that a mountain lion and a cougar is the same creature. "How could there be mountain lions in florida?" logic would have them believe that the mountain lion and the florida panther are two seperate species when in fact they are not seperate at all.
The Florida Panther if used properly refers to a subspecies of cougar that is native to the United States Southeast. The fact that there are no names designating any of the other subspecies of cougar has probably contributed to the confusion.
Description - cougars weigh from 85 to 180 pounds, and may reach to over six feet in length when counting the tail length. The long tail makes up about one-third of the total length. The coat is typically a brown to light tan color, shading into red in the southwest or greyish in the northern part of their range. The muzzle and chest are white, with dark triangular markings on either side of the mouth and a dark tail-tip.
This leads us right into the second misconception. Color! Many people are shocked to learn that cougar does not come in a black colored version. There has never been a single documented case of a black color phase cougar. Yet most people think the cougar does come in a black version. It is a bit ironic that another well known animal... the bobcat does come in a black version, on rare occasions, yet morst people don't know of this fact. If you encounter someone that believes cougars come in a black version I have found it generally good advice to let them wallow in their ignorance as few seem willing to accept the fact that black cougars do not exist.
The term panther, misidentification, poor light and escaped pets have led to this fallicy and it just will not die. The term panther refers one of three species of big cat, the cougar, the jaguar and the leapord. Both the leapord and the jaguar have black color phases and to the typical person the black panthers are hard to distinguish from one another without the distinctive markings.
So since everyone seems to know that a cougar is a panther and we have all seen black panthers on tv and in pictures then it is easy to see how this fallicy got started.
Still another reason that seems to be a bit perplexing is the fact that sightings of large cats in the east have a very high probablity of being described as black in color. This as well has lead to the continued believe that panthers in the east or often black.
When Florida was trying to save the florida panther from extinction they had a plan to capture as many of the remaining cougars as possible. They investigated sighting with the hope of capturing the cougars that people had spotted or found sign of. The sighting were quite often of black cougars. Invariably the vast majority of the sightings were misidentifications. The black panther reports either turned out to be dogs, otters or regular brown colored panthers that simply appeared black to the person due to poor light are shadows making the cat look darker.
Yet even with all the false black panther sighting a few black panthers have been spotted in the United States. This certainly doesn't help dispell the myths and might appear to contridict what I have just stated. But read closer! I said a few black PANTHERS are spotted. These black panthers are black and they are panthers but they are not cougars!!! Instead they are either Black Leapords or Jaguars that were released or escaped into the wild from captivity. Take a look at some video footage of a black panther in Alabama, most probably an african leapord. Black Panther
Cougar Habits - Cougars are usually solitary animals that tolerate other cougars on during mating. Cubs stay with their mother for up to two years. Females cougars first breed when they are 18 to 24 months old. The litter of two to three cubs are born after 92 days of gestations. Cubs are born with blue eyes and a spotted coat. The spots slowly fade and disappear completely the time they are ready to leave their mother and strike out on their own.
Cougars have extremely large territories and do not tolerate other cougars within their range except males will tolerate females with overlapping ranges. Cougars have home ranges of about 125-175 square miles, with female having a range that is usually smaller than that of the males.
Cougars are mainly nocturnal and are rarely seen. They favor dense forests that provide good stalking cover while hunting. Cougars also take advantage of steep canyons and rock outcroppings to remain hidden.
Headed East - Cougars eat everything from mice to elk, but deer is their primary prey. Cougar numbers are increasing and they are now spreading eastward, reclaiming their old stomping grounds. They are finding their old turf in the east has changed quite a bit over the last centry and trapping and shooting as threats have been replaced with habitat distruction and automobils as their primary hurdles to reclaiming part of the still semi-wild east. Total habitat is available but it is so fragmented that these islands of woods are growing smaller each and every year. Still they push east. Will they be able to re-establish theirselves here is a tale that is know one can yet answer. I hope so and the game is being played and decided right now.