The puma is solitary, except during breeding, and can be active during the day or night but mainly at dawn and dusk. It hunts over a large area and does not have a permanent den, except for a female with young. Pumas may take up temporary shelter in dense vegetation, caves, or rocky crevices. Adult males usually stay out of each other’s way, but their territories do overlap with those of several adult females. Females are less territorial, and their home ranges can also overlap with those of other females.
The puma’s prey varies according to where it lives, and includes deer, pigs, beavers, porcupines, and hares. The cat carefully stalks its prey, and may capture it by leaping on its back or after a short chase. The frequency of meals varies; a female with large cubs will eat one deer every 3 days, but a lone adult might only eat one deer every 16 days. With a large kill, pumas typically consume the meat over the course of several days, covering the remains with leaves and debris between visits.
Births can occur at any time of year, but are mostly in late winter and early spring. Litters average 3 to 4 cubs. Young can weigh as little as half a pound at birth and have spotted fur until they are about 6 months old. They can make kills by around one year and leave their mother by 2 years. By 3 years, they are mature. Pumas can live for 20 years, slightly longer in zoos.
Some of My Neighbors
Wolves, foxes, deer, peccaries, coyotes, jaguars, bobcats, bison, golden eagles
Population Status & Threats
Pumas were virtually eliminated from eastern North America within 200 years of European colonization. Any remaining eastern populations, such as the Florida panther, are considered critically endangered. The puma is threatened by hunting, habitat loss, and reduction in its prey base throughout the rest of its range. Its population is declining.
WCS Conservation Efforts
In Bolivia and Peru, WCS works with local communities to reduce human-animal conflict with pumas and other key species that sometimes attack domesticated animals. Through simple corrals and an understanding of potential benefits the wildlife might bring, communities can live more harmoniously with wildlife. In the Greater Yellowstone area, WCS is studying how cougars and other carnivores use land corridors. The information helps local planners develop wildlife management and land-use schemes.