Also known as cougar, jaguar or puma, the mountain lion stalks a wide range of habitats from Canada to South America. Its coloration is as variable as its habitat, though tawny and grayish brown are most common. Large adults may weigh as much as 220 pounds. A solitary creature, each mountain lion lives in a defined territory. Males sometimes allow females to overlap with their territories, but never other males.
Hunting in early mornings and evenings, the mountain lion’s main prey is deer, though it also hunts rodents, hares and sometimes domestic livestock as well. It is a stealthy hunter - stalking its prey, then leaping as far as 20 feet to kill the animal with a powerful bite to the nape of the neck.
Mountain lions typically mate for a season, sometimes longer, with females bearing 2-4 young in a den among rocks or dense vegetation after a gestation of 92-96 days. They often use the same den several years in a row. In the mountain lion’s northern range, young are born in summer, but they can be born year round in the tropics. Young begin eating solid food at six or seven weeks and stay with the mother for up to two years.
Once common, the mountain lion is extirpated in much of its American range, especially in the eastern United States, where only 100–150 Florida Panthers remain. The main threats to the species have been loss of prey and habitat and intentional persecution. It is estimated that less than 50,000 mature breeding mountain lions remain globally.
The IUCN lists the mountain lion as Near Threatened, the Florida subspecies as Critically Endangered.May 07, 2012